What is Vetiver?

Vetiver is a non-invasive (infertile!), deep-rooted, long-leaf clump grass that's been used in tropical and semi-tropical climates to stop erosion and to define property boundaries for more than a century.  Left untrimmed, its stiff, tightly-grouped leaves can reach up to nine feet tall.  It’s the invisible half of Vetiver, though, that tenaciously grips the soil.  Growing straight down to depths of 9-12 feet, Vetiver’s dense, fibrous roots bind the earth.

Vetiver's hardy. It thrives on dry and swampy land, in fertile and poor soils, in soils that are highly acidic or alkaline, and in coastal areas.  Vetiver flourishes in temperatures from 15ºF to 122ºF, and in areas with annual rainfall between 11 and 236 inches. It’s not affected by pests or diseases.

Vetiver is quite comfortable in Hawaii.  It’s not picky about the type of soil, and it grows quickly in our warm, humid weather.  It tolerates—and remediates--soils contaminated by herbicides, pesticides, and heavy metals, including chlordane, heptachlor, arsenic, and TNT.  Vetiver’s gluttony for environmental punishment is unmatched by any other grass.

What is Hawaii Sunshine Vetiver?

Hawaii Sunshine Vetiver is plant material that has completed Hawaii’s mandatory quarantine.  Understandably concerned about the incursion  of invasive grasses into Hawaii, both the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (DOA) maintain import restrictions on ALL grasses seeking to enter Hawaii. 

First, the USDA bans the import of ANY grass from outside the country.  Second, in addition to the USDA’s complete ban on foreign grasses, the DOA prohibits the release into Hawaii of any grass from the US mainland until it satisfactorily completes a one-year quarantine.  Confiscation occurs upon arrival.   

Vetiver propagated and sold by Vetiver Systems Hawaii proudly bears the Hawaii Sunshine Vetiver brand.  

Is Vetiver a weed? 

No. Nein. Non. Nyet. Absolutely not. Hawaii Sunshine Vetiver  is sterile.  We propagate only Sunshine Vetiver, which is non-invasive,    and does not compete with native plants.

Vetiver neither creeps nor sends out rhizomes. Its roots grow vertically, not laterally. These characteristics ensure that it does not wander into other areas.  However, Vetiver's sterility also means that each slip must be planted individually. 

Who has evaluated Vetiver’s potential for invasiveness?

Both the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) and Hawaiian Ecosystems At Risk (HEAR) have evaluated Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides) and assigned it the absolute LOWEST rating for invasiveness.  Within a scale from-8 (least invasive) to 20 (most invasive), Vetiver’s PIER/HEAR rating is -8. 

Although Vetiver is an introduced plant, it is not invasive.  On the other hand, many grasses and sedges indigenous to Hawaii are invasive, some highly so. Vetiver's highly favorable PIER/HEAR rating leaves in the dust some local plants commonly used for soil conservation and bank stabilization, for example:                       Plant                                                 Rating

Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum)              18                                       Bamboo (giant) reed (Arundo donax)        12                                        Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylum)           5                          Broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus)        15                                        Elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum)   18                                        Guinea grass (Panicum maximum)            17                               Kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandastinum)   18                                Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana)                  18                                Switch grass (Panicucum virgatum)           11                                  Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides) *******-8*******

Confirm these ratings and view those of other plants at: http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

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