Plants perennial; cespitose, not stoloniferous. Culms
1-3 m, not branched, not woody. Sheaths glabrous, keeled; Ligules
0.3-1.5 mm, of hairs; blades 23-140 cm long, 2.5-13 mm wide, flat or
folded, mostly glabrous but the adaxial surfaces usually pilose basally. Panicles
16-33 cm long, 2.5-9 cm wide, with many branches; branches 5.5-12 cm,
ascending, naked basal portions 1-4 cm, terminating in a rame; rames
to 10 cm, with 5-13 spikelet pairs and a terminal triplet. Sessile spikelets
3.8-6 mm (including the callus); calluses 0.6-0.8 mm, rounded, laterally
ciliate basally, hairs 0.1-1.4 mm, white; lower glumes scabrous or setulose
to spinulose distally, particularly on the veins, acute to acuminate; upper
glumes setulose distally, particularly on the veins, without a dorsal fringe
of hairs, muticous; upper lemmas muticous to awned, awns to 2(4.5) mm,
straight. Pedicels 2.2-4.3 mm. Pedicellate spikelets 2.8-4.6 mm,
staminate; glumes muticous; anthers 1.6-2 mm. 2n = 20.
Chrysopogon zizanioides, which used to be included in Vetiveria
Bory, is native to river banks and flood plains in the south Asian tropics and
subtropics, but it has been deliberately established in the warmer areas of
the United States. It grows in a variety of soils, from heavy clays to dune
sand, and will tolerate windy coastal conditions.
Hedges of Chrysopogon zizanioides can control soil erosion
or restore eroded land. Once established, they are effective even in desert
areas subject to flash flooding. The deep root system reaches water far below
the surface and prevents the plants from being washed away while the dense,
aboveground growth traps silt and sediment. Because C. zizanioides does
not spread vegetatively and many cultigens have low or no seed production, contour
hedges can be planted around cultivated fields or engineering structures without
fear of invasion.
Essential oils from the aromatic roots are sometimes used as
perfume, and numerous biocidal effects are reported. For current information
on uses of Chrysopogon zizanioides, see http://www.vetiver.org/.