Uprooting resistance of vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides)

S. B. Mickovski, L. P. H. van Beek, F. Salin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides), also known as Chrysopogon zizanioides, is a graminaceous plant native to tropical and subtropical India. The southern cultivar is sterile; it flowers but sets no seeds. It is a densely tufted, perennial grass that is considered sterile outside its natural habitat. It grows 0.5-1.5 m high, stiff stems in large clumps from a much branched root stock. The roots of vetiver grass are fibrous and reported to reach depths up to 3 m thus being able to stabilise the soil and its use for this purpose is promoted by the World Bank. Uprooting tests were carried out on vetiver grass in Spain in order to ascertain the resistance the root system can provide when torrential runoffs and sediments are trying to uproot the plant. Uprooting resistance of each plant was correlated to the shoot and root morphological characteristics. In order to investigate any differences between root morphology of vetiver grass in its native habitat reported in the literature, and the one planted in a sub-humid environment in Spain, excavation techniques were used to show root distribution in the soil. Results show that vetiver grass possesses the root strength to withstand torrential runoff. Planted in rows along the contours, it may act as a barrier to the movement of both water and soil. However, the establishment of the vetiver lags behind the reported rates in its native tropical environment due to adverse climatic conditions in the Mediterranean. This arrested development is the main limitation to the use of vetiver in these environments although its root strength is more than sufficient.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEco-and Ground Bio-Engineering
Subtitle of host publicationThe Use of Vegetation to Improve Slope Stability. Developments in Plant and Soil Sciences
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2007

Publication series

NameDevelopments in Plant and Soil Sciences


  • pullout resistance
  • root system morphology
  • roots
  • uprooting
  • vetiver
  • Vetiveria zizanioides


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