Khas commonly known as vetiver and khus, is a perennial bunchgrass of the family Poaceae.
A tropical grass about 2 - 5 m high, Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides) is characterized by its extensive root system that tends to grow deep up to 4 m or more. Because of such characteristic, it is commonly planted to prevent soil erosion in sloping areas. It is also highly tolerant to heavy metals found in the soil. Stems and old leaves, on the other hand, are used as thatch or process into a coarse paper-pulp. Other Names: Akar wangi, Botha grass, Janur, Khas-khas, Khus-khus, Kusu-kusu, Larasetu, Larawastu, Nara setu, Nara wastu, Narawastu, Ramacham, Reshira, Sugandhimula, Usar, Vetiver Root.
Khas is a perennial bunchgrass, and grows to 1.5 m tall and form clumps as wide. The stems are tall and the leaves are long, thin, and rather rigid. The flowers are brownish-purple. Unlike most grasses, which form horizontally spreading, mat-like root systems, vetiver's roots grow downward, 2 m to 4 m in depth. The vetiver bunch grass has a gregarious habit and grows in clusters. Shoots growing from the underground crown make the plant frost and wildfire resistant, and allow it to survive heavy grazing pressure. The leaves can become up to 3 m long and 8 mm wide. The panicles are 15 cm to 30 cm long and have whorled, 2.5-5 cm long branches. The spikelets are in pairs, and there are three stamens. The plant stems are erect and stiff. They can survive deep water flow. Under clear water, the plant can survive up to two months. The leaves of vetiver are a useful byproduct to feed cattle, goats, sheep and horses. Khus is also used as a flavoring agent, usually as khus syrup. In the Indian Subcontinent, khus (vetiver roots) is often used to replace the straw or wood shaving pads in evaporative coolers.
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The root yields high quality, woody, and heavy-scented essential oil which is used as a flavouring in canned asparagus and peas, fruit drinks, syrup sweets, etc. It is also used in making soaps, perfumery, cosmetics, deodorants, and other toiletries. The roots are used to make baskets, fans, mats, and cooling screens. Powdered roots show insecticidal properties.