Chrysopogon nigritanus, more widely known by the taxonomic synonym
Vetiveria nigritana, or the common name black vetivergrass, is a
perennial grass species of the
Poaceae family and therefore is also a
monocotyledon. More specifically, Vetiveria nigritana is a very
thick and tall type of grass that is deeply rooted within the ground
and is usually used to protect crops and deter soil erosion.
Vetiveria nigritana is also a native species to Africa and is most
commonly seen in Nigeria, Northern Africa,
Eastern Africa and tropical
parts of Southern Africa. In addition, the plant, like other
vetiver grasses, has been used in these regions due to its extreme
drought tolerance, ability to grow in infertile soil and the fact that
it can live under complete submergence. In fact, Vetiveria
nigritana can thrive in a very diverse range of environmental and
Vetiveria nigritana is a very beneficial plant within subsistence
agriculture, especially in Africa, due to its ability to preserve
soils and reduce water runoff, which ultimately is correlated with
higher crop yields. In addition, the plant is also beneficial in
protecting a farmers stored crop harvests and plants while in the
field because the plant can be used as a repellent or a means of
destroying pest larvae before they have the ability to affect a
farmer’s cash crop. Vetiveria nigritana also has various
cost-effective medical applications for subsistence farmers and can be
used as feed to maintain livestock in the absence of other more common
1 Related species
Soil erosion and runoff prevention
3 Pest control
5 Medical uses
6 Increased crop yields
7 Additional practical information
10 External links
Chrysopogon zizaniodes is a directly related species of the perennial
type grass that has been more widely adopted by farmers, especially in
India. However, the two forms of vetiver grass are very similar in
their benefits and growing conditions; the largest difference is that
Chrysopogon zizaniodes has been more widely studied and used,
especially to create fragrances.
Soil erosion and runoff prevention
One of the main benefits of using Vetiveria nigritana, especially in
subsistence agriculture, is that it reduces soil erosion and nutrient
loss associated with water runoff and wind displacement. Essentially,
when Vetiveria nigritana is planted in hedgerows surrounding a crop or
in multiple spaced rows, it creates a barrier that prevents soil
run-off. This is because the plant’s thick grass structure is
able to accumulate soil and nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus
and carbon that would otherwise have been lost due to runoff. In
fact, studies have shown that planting Vetiveria nigritana hedgerows
reduces soil loss by around 70%, which allows farmers to retain the
nutrients within their soil. Secondly, the use of Vetiveria
nigritana also reduces water runoff, in some cases by 130%, which is
beneficial because in areas where irrigation is not present,
conserving natural rainfall is essential for the survival of a
farmer’s crop. In addition, the use of the type of vetiver
grass is ideal in places like the African subtropics to prevent soil
erosion and runoff because Vetiveria nigritana has been shown to be
highly effective on a variety of different slopes in preventing the
degradation of soil. Therefore, Vetiveria nigritana would benefit
subsistence farmers because the increased nutrients, retention of soil
and the accumulation of water that it causes would help to improve
Another benefit of Vetiveria nigritana is its ability to deter pests
from damaging crops while in the field during the growing season and
from ruining the quality of plants while in storage. In Africa it was
discovered that by planting Vetiveria nigritana in hedgerows around
maize, that maize stem borers would attach to the plant more
frequently than to maize and when the larvae hatched the potential
borers died. In addition, Vetiveria nigritana is also beneficial in
protecting certain crops after harvest, such as rice crops, because
when the leaves of the plant are boiled in sea salt and then placed
below and above the crop in a storage environment they act as a
repellent for insects, while also preventing mold. Therefore, the
use of Vetiveria nigritana would be beneficial to subsistence farmers
because it would protect their crops and help ensure their survival.
Additionally, Vetiveria nigritana, like other forms of vetiver
grasses, is beneficial in protecting the livestock of subsistence
farmers. Even though vetiver grasses usually have a low protein ratio
of about 8% they can be continuously harvested and fed to livestock if
there is a shortage of other feeds for the animals due to poor
harvests, diseased crops or contaminated storages. This is valuable
to subsistence farmers because a lack of feed usually leads to animals
being slaughtered. Therefore, as a result of the use of vetiver
grasses, the fertilizer production and grazing benefits of livestock
are not lost, which is another reason why they are ideal for
There are many medical uses that have been derived from Vetiveria
nigritana because the plant contains very high levels of essential
oils that can be distilled and used for traditional medical
applications. Firstly, Vetiveria nigritana can and has been used to
increase the quality of the taste of drinking water in less developed
nations such as Africa. In addition, the plant has also
traditionally been used to eliminate pathogenic bacteria that are
present. Lastly, Vetiveria nigritana is also beneficial at reducing
diarrhea and has been used historically to treat children with a great
deal of success. Therefore, Vetiveria nigritana is beneficial to
poor farmers because it provides traditional cost effective ways to
fight infections and disease.
Increased crop yields
The use of Vetiveria nigritana is also valuable to farmers because it
has directly been correlated with increased crops yields. Under
certain forms of consistent cultivation, it was discovered that
Vetiveria nigratana was beneficial in increasing maize yields by 49.1%
and cassava yields by 3.2% when compared to fields that were not
currently using the agricultural practice in Nigeria. This
increase in crop yield associated with the use of Vetiveria nigritana
would be ideal for poor and subsistence farmers because it could
potentially increase the profits and food available to them for
survival. In addition, the heightened crop yields that are caused by
Vetiveria nigritana are largely facilitated due to its ability to
reduce soil erosion and runoff.
Additional practical information
There are two main ways that Vetiveria nigritana is commonly used in
Grass Strips (VGS) is a common form of
Vetiveria nigritana use, which consists of hedge rowing vetiver
grasses around a crop to reduce erosion, while still allowing for the
cultivation benefits of spatial rowing. In addition, another common
way to use Vetiveria nigritana that is beneficial to farmers is
Grass Mulch (VGM), which is a process of creating mulch out of
the plant and then dispersing the residue over an area of farmland to
decrease soil erosion and increase infiltration. As for advice for
the growth of Vetiveria nigritana and other vetiver grasses, they
should be planted quickly in wet areas if the farm is accustomed to
severe runoff or the plant should propagated in containers and then
transplanted to these areas, to ensure initial survival. In
addition, the plants should be spaced six inches apart within
hedgerows, and intervals of 5 meters between the rows have been
shown to be the most effective in soil retention.
^ a b c d Champagnant et al. (2007), p. 488.
^ a b c Grimshaw (1994), p. 44.
^ a b c d e f Babalola et al. (2007), p. 7.
^ Babalola et al. (2007), p. 6.
^ Donjadee & Tingsanchali (2013), p. 573.
^ Chomchalow (2001), p. 13.
^ a b Chomchalow (2001), p. 12.
^ a b c Grimshaw (1994), p. 45.
^ a b c d Champagnant et al. (2008), p. 68.
^ a b Oshunsanya (2013), p. 121.
^ Oshunsanya (2013), p. 124.
Babalola, O.; Oshunsanya, S. O. & Are, K. (2007). "Effects of
vetiver grass (Vetiveria nigritana) strips, vetiver grass mulch and an
organomineral fertilizer on soil, water and nutrient losses and maize
(Zea mays, L) yields". Soil and Tillage Research. 96 (1–2): 6–18.
doi:10.1016/j.still.2007.02.008. (Subscription required (help)).
Champagnant, P.; Bessiere, J. M.; Chezal, J. M.; Chalchat, J. C. &
Carnat, A. P. (2007). "New compounds from the essential oil of
Vetiveria nigritana roots from Mali". Flavour and
22 (6): 488–493. doi:10.1002/ffj.1828. (Subscription required
Champagnant, P.; Heitz, A.; Carnat, A.; Friasse, D.; Carnat, A. P.
& Lamaison, J. L. (2008). "Flavonoids from Vetiveria zizanioides
and Vetiveria nigritana (Poaceae)". Biochemical Systematics and
Ecology. 36 (1): 68–70. doi:10.1016/j.bse.2007.05.015. (Subscription
Chomchalow, N. (2001). The Utilization of
Vetiver as Medicinal and
Aromatic Plants: with
Special Reference to Thailand (PDF). Bangkok:
Office of the Royal Development Projects Board. Catalogue No.
Donjadee, S.; Tingsanchali, T. (2013). "Reduction of runoff and soil
loss over steep slopes by using vetiver hedgerow systems". Paddy and
Water Environment. 11 (1–4): 573–581.
doi:10.1007/s10333-012-0350-2. (Subscription required (help)).
Grimshaw, R. G. (1994). "From the 50s: a solution for the 90s".
Americas. 46 (1): 42–45.
Oshunsanya, S.O. (2013). "Spacing effects of vetiver grass (Vetiveria
nigritana Stapf) hedgerows on soil accumulation and yields of
maize–cassava intercropping systems in Southwest Nigeria". Catena.
104: 120–126. doi:10.1016/j.catena.2012.10.019. (Subscription
Dressler, S.; Schmidt, M. & Zizka, G. (2014). "Chrysopogon
nigritanus". African plants – a Photo Guide. Frankfurt/Main:
Plant List: kew-405118