The vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides) was originally cultivated in India to prevent soil erosion, and is still used for this purpose in more than 100 countries. It is also exploited for its ability to act against soil pollution, helping to restore contam-nated areas. The roots of Vetiveria zizanioides produce aseries of sesquiterpenic metabolites that, after the possible intervention of symbiotic soil microorganisms, afford a complex mixture of odoriferous components. The hydro distillation of these roots delivers an essential oil showing a delicate, tenacious and complex association of woody, grapefruit and smoky-earthy notes.
Vetiver essential oil is one of the major natural ingredients in the fragrance industry. Given its molecular and olfactory complexity, VEO sometimes has been described as a perfume on its own and is widely used for the formulation of luxury fragrances. Nowadays, perfumers use it at lower concentrations in the past, but this ingredient is still widely present in modern perfumery, and it is estimated that VEO is contained in up to20% of men’s perfumes. Vetiver essential oil has also been approved for food use since 1970 by the US Food and Drugs Administration, and has been added as a flavouring agent in beverages and for the aromatization of canned asparagus or peas.Vetiver is also produced for other purposes, and one of the main purposes is commonly used in traditional Indian medicine to dissolve kidney stones and for aphrodisiac properties. It also has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antifungal activities. Vetiver essential oil has almost no toxicity, phototoxicity or irritating properties, even when applied in pure form on the skin.