Vetiver has been known in India from the ancient times. It has been considered a high-class perfume. Copper plate inscriptions listing the perfume as one of the articles used by royalty have been discovered. In Ayurvedic literature it is called 'Suganti-mulaka' (means Sweet smelling) and 'Sita-mulaka' (having cool roots). All over India, the roots are made into scented mats, fans, ornamental baskets and many other small articles. Also burnt as a fumigatory.
It is a densely tufted grass. The culms are arising from an aromatic rhizome. The grass is stout, up to and over 2 m. tall, in dense tufts, with stout spongy aromatic roots. The leaves are narrow, erect, keeled, glabrous and its margins are scabrid. The inflorescence is a panicle of numerous slender racemes in whorls on a central axis. The spikelets are grey-green or purplish in colour and in pairs. One is sessile and the other is pedicelled. Those of each pair are more or less alike in shape and size, different in sex and 2-flowered. The lower floret is reduced to a lemma. Upper is bisexual in the sessile. Male is in the pedicelled spikelet, glumes armed with short, tubercle-based spines, lemmas awn-less, palea minute.
The main constituents are a- and b- Vetivone. Zizanal and Epizizizanal were isolated from the oil.
Zizanal and Epizizanal exhibited insect repellent activity1.
It is widely used in perfumes and cosmetics, and for scenting soaps. It blends well with the oils of sandalwood, patchouli and rose. A decoction of the leaves is recommended as a diaphoretic. When locally applied in rheumatism, lumbago and sprain, it is a good ambrocation and affords relief. In Madhya Pradesh, the plant is used as an anthelmintic for children The oil is reported to be used as a carminative in flatulence, colic and obstinate vomiting. It is regarded as a stimulant, refrigerant and antibacterial and when applied externally, it removes excess heat from the body and gives a cooling effect. A decoction of the leaves is recommended as a diaphoretic.
- Tetrahedron Lett., 1982, 23, 4639.