Khus Khus

A tall, tufted, perennial tropical grass growing in India. The plant is cultivated for its roots, which are collected for extracting the essential oil. Older roots produce better quality scent, and they improve with age. The rooting system helps to prevent soil erosion, especially during the rainy season.

Ten species of perennial grasses make up this genus, distributed throughout tropical Asia. Vetivera zizanioides is an extremely useful, large, course grass. It is grown mainly in Haiti, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Réunion, and Vietnam for essential oil, and in many parts of the world to control erosion, as the aromatic roots grow straight down for 3m (10ft). In India the grass is traditionally woven into screens, which are hung in doorways and windows and sprayed with water to keep rooms cool and free from insects. Vetiver roots are rich in volatile oil, knoan as "oil of tranquility" in India and Sri Lanka. It has a heavy, earthy aroma, and is strongly repellent to flies, cockroaches, bedbugs, and clothes moths. The name Vetiveria is derived from vettiveri, the word for the plant in S India, which in turn came from the Dravidian ver, root.

Robust, giant grass with fibrous, spongy roots, and rigid, linear leaves, 1-2m (3-6ft) long. Tiny brown to purple flowers are produced in long-stalked spikes, to 1.5m (5ft) long, in summer.

Common Name:
Khus Khus
Other Names:
Vetiver, cuscus
Botanical Name:
Vetiveria zizanioides
Native Location:
India, Indonesia, Tropical Asia
Wet to dry soil in sun. Trim plants grown as a hedge to encourage dense growth; burn over to destroy crop-pest larvae. Plants may be damaged by fungal diseases and termites.
By division, or "slips" and layering at the start of the growing season; commercially by tissue culture.
Roots are lifted as required and distilled for oil, or processed for solvent extraction.
Steam distillation
2-3m (6-9ft)
Min. 10°C (50°F)
Parts Used:
Roots, oil.
Color and Odor:
The essential oil is thick and dark reddish-brown in color with a deep, smoky and earthy scent.
Vetivert has long been used in India for its perfume and insect repellant properties. It is placed with linen to repel moths. The roots are woven into awnings and blinds and hung on windows in India, where the emanate their scent on warm days when sprinkled with water.
Sedative, grounding, relaxing.
An aromatic, sedative, antiseptic herb that increases production of red blood corpuscles.
  • Nervous System—Deeply relaxing and good for nervous debility.
  • Skin—Useful for mature, dry or irritated skin. Strengthens the connective tissues and promotes skin regeneration.
  • Emotions—Protects against oversensitivity and being over-effected by other peoples emotions. It can also be used for relieving deeply felt tensions and fears. Settles nerves of people who are too open and out of balance. Induces tranquility. It's earthy scent is sexually arousing and strengthening.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for nervous and circulatory problems. Externally for lice, and as a tonic bath.
Culinary Uses:
Roots are used to make Khus essence and Khus water to flavor candy and drinks (India).
Economic Uses:
Oil is an ingredient in oriental "woody" perfumes. Extracts are used in hair care. Dried roots are woven into scented mats, screens and fans; also used as insect repellents. Oil is used in soaps and cosmetics, and as a fragrance fixture. Extracts are used to flavor canned asparagus and Indian fruit drinks.
Vetivert 6 Vetivert 3 Vetivert 4
Rosemary 3 Rose 2 Rosewood 3
Petitgrain 3 Frankincense 2 Mandarin 3
Aromatherapy Blends and recipes by Franzesca Watson Copyright © 1995 Thorsons, Harper Parker Publishing Inc. Pp 176-177
The Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Bown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited. pg. 403