Florida Vetiver Systems, LLCupdated: August 2009

Florida Vetiver Systems, LLC

About the Vetiver System
The Vetiver System is an innovative, green technology used to solve environmental problems based on the use of inexpensive Vetiver Grass plants (Chrysopogon zizanioides). A truely incredible plant species, Vetiver is a fast growing, seedless, perennial bunch grass that is native to southern India. The roots, shoots, reproductive biology and metabolism of Vetiver Grass plants are truely remarkable. Properly applied, we can capitalize on these special botanical properties to solve erosion, pollution, and other environmental issues. If we rely on plants to provide us with food crops, clothing textiles, building materials and medicines then why not employ them to help us with our environmental engineering needs?

How it works
The most striking feature of Vetiver plant is its root system. Vetiver has fragrant roots which grow incredibly deep, dense & strong. With little lateral growth, they reach almost 15' straight down into the earth. Additionally, they have a tensile strength 1/6th that of mild-steel. By planting several of these plants close together in rows, their roots intertwine to form a deep underground network. This organic network of steel-like roots traps loose soil to reduce erosion. By using plant roots to improve or replace concrete & geo-textile erosion control devices, we can improve the stability of the earth and the structures that we build upon it.

Vetiver grows incredibly fast, so it can also be used to absorb pollutants in the soil & water. Toxic levels of Nitrogen and Phosphorus as well as heavy metals and pesticides are quickly trapped by the root structure or absorbed into the plant tissues. Vetiver's ability to sequester deadly chemicals from our environment and transform them safely into plant biomass, makes it truely remarkable.

Where it grows
Vetiver is widely adaptable. Its extensive root system allows it to draw moisture from far below the soil surface. This insulates it from environmental extremes and makes it widely adaptable to adverse growing conditions including:

  • Soil moistures (15 months of drought - total submergence)
  • Temperatures (130F-15F, USDA ZONES 7-11)
  • Soil types (wind blown sand- heavy alluvial clay)
  • Extemely acidic to basic soils (pH 3-10)
  • It is extremely salt tolerant
  • It is tolerant of toxic soils (heavy metals and pesticides)
  • It has no major pests or diseases
  • It is tolerant to mowing, traffic, grazing & fire

What it does
Vetiver grass is a highly adaptable plant which lends itself to many uses. Worldwide erosion through the action of wind and rain is a major environmental problem causing Billions of dollars in property damage & crop loss every year. In many countries, the Vetiver System is quickly becoming the #1 tool for erosion control. Why? because even traditional "hard engineering" solutions like concrete can fail, but Vetiver roots act like a "living nail" to fix the soil and stop it from slipping away. The Vetiver System can be used to prevent erosion around any structure but it is especially effective around water control structures such as seawalls, levees, ditches, culverts, bridges & drains.

  • Planted or floated in retention ponds or around the outfall of sewers Vetiver quickly converts pollutants (Nitrates & Phosphates) into plant biomass.
  • Planted near contaminated soils it prevents leaching of toxic chemicals.
  • Planted near wooden structures to it can prevent termites because the roots have been shown to contain chemicals (e.g. nootkatone) that are non-toxic to humans but act as a natural insecticide that repells insects and deters boring.
  • Planted near crops it increases soil moisture & the improves fertility thereby improving crop production.
  • The foliage can be used as fodder.
  • The foliage can be dried and used for a variety of handicrafts.
  • Essentail oils can be extracted from the roots and used to make perfume

Is It Invasive?
NO! Given the tenacity of this species one would expect it to be the most invasive and noxious of weeds. However, the situation is quite contrary. Certain varities of Vetiver Grass produce flowers that are sterile and therefore cannot produce viable seeds. Furthermore, since the root system is entirely vertical, Vetiver does not produce lateral meristems known as stolons (aka 'runners'). Vetiver spreads out radially from the root crown and is propagated by division. These feature prevent it from growing anywhere other than where it is planted. Additionally, Vetiver is highly sensitive to glyphosate herbicides, such as Round-Up, and plants can easily be sprayed out if they are no longer desired. Such properties have been rigourously investigated by various national and international organizations, including the National Academy of Science, USDA, and the South Eastern Exotic Pest Plant Council, who have determined that Vetiver Grass is non-invasive.

Contact Florida Vetiver Systems, LLC

Contact Florida Vetiver Systems, LLC

Duff Swan
510 Oak Lane
Maitland, Florida  32751
Phone: 407-278-5757


Service Area

Statewide service provider in:
  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • Puerto Rico
  • South Carolina
  • Texas

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