Moras (Chrysopogon Zizanioides) is a coarse, erect, tufted perennial, growing 1 to 2 meters high. Roots are fibrous and fragrant. Leaves are arranged in two rows, about 1 meter long, 1 centimeters or less in width, and folded. Panicles are terminal, erect, purple or greenish, about 20 centimeters long; the branches are slender, whorled, spreading or ascending, 5 to 12 centimeters long. Sessile spikelets are about 4 millimeters long and muricate; the awn of the fourth glume is very short or absent.
Essential oil is extracted from roots by steam distillation; freshly harvested roots giving higher yield than stored roots, decreasing with increased period of storage. Low recovery of traditionally distilled oil fetches highest price in the perfumery market. Oil has been attributed various properties i.e., anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, aphrodisiac, cicatrizant, nervine, sedative, tonic and vulnerary. Over 150 compounds have been isolated and characterized from vetiver oil. The major portion of the oil consists of sesquiterpene alcohol. The chemical composition of vetiver essential oils from nine countries i.e., Brazil, China, Haiti, India, Java, Madagascar, Mexico, Reunion, and Salvador yielded 110 compounds, with characteristic constituents of ß-vetispirene (1.6-4.5%), khusimol (3.4-13.7%), vetiselineol (1.3-7.8%), and α-vetinone (2.5-6.3%).
Vetiver grass is a densely tufted bunch grass which can be easily established in both tropics and temperate regions of the world. It plays a vital role in watershed protection by slowing down and spreading runoff harmlessly on the farmland, recharging ground water, reducing siltation of drainage systems and water bodies, reducing agro-chemicals loading into water bodies and for rehabilitation of degraded soils. Vetiver grass could tolerate extremely high levels of heavy metals. It could be used as biological pest control.
The use of vetiver grass has been regarded as a low-cost technology for soil and water conservation; on- and off-farm land and water sources stabilization and remediation of polluted soils; and enhancement of water quality for irrigation purposes when compared with other soil conservation technologies. It could be a dynamic tool for mitigating environmental and agricultural problems, thereby enhancing crop yield and supporting all-year round agricultural cultivation.