Vetiver (Fr. From The East Indian Vitivayr). Several grasses of the genus andropogon, which is largely represented in this country, have aromatic properties in a marked degree; in some cases these are important enough to make them or their products articles of commerce. The oil of lemon grass, so much used in modern perfumery (see Lemon Grass), is from A. schoenanthus, and the roots of A. muricatus, as vetiver, are employed by the French perfumers. The last named species, which is very common in India, where it is known also as kus-kus, grows from 3 to 6 ft. high, with leaves 3 ft. long; no part of the plant has any marked odor, except the root; this consists of much-branching fibrous rootlets, which in the imported article are clumps of a few inches to a foot long; they have a strong odor, recalling that of myrrh, but more pleasant, which depends upon a resinous matter. In India the roots are used to preserve stuffs and clothing from insects, and are interwoven into screens of lattice work which are placed in the windows; when wetted they give to the air which passes through them a pleasing odor; palanquins are perfumed in the same manner, and the roots are used for making perfumed baskets and other small articles.
As early as 1103 the root was received in India in payment for taxes.