Vetiver grass, or Chrysopogon zizanioides, is a perennial bunchgrass of the family Poaceae, native to India. Vetiver is most closely related to Sorghum but shares many structural characteristics with other fragrant grasses, such as lemongrass, citronella, and palmarosa. Vetiver was brought to Hawaii by the USDA for two main reasons: to help with soil erosion and to absorb toxins from the soil.
The grass grows rapidly with a very strong root system. Although technically invasive, it is considered tolerable because of its uses and can be eradicated easily once the roots are removed and destroyed. Livestock have also been known to eat the grass.
The roots have two medicinal qualities. Once harvested and cleaned, an oil can be extracted from them; you can rub vetiver oil on the bottom of your feet to encourage relaxation and promote a great night’s sleep. Because of its grounding effects, vetiver oil is commonly used in massages. It can also be made into a tea, which, when drunk, will induce a similar tranquil effect.