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USDA/NRCS Endorsement

Monday, July 20, 2009

Robert Jothe Species Coordinator at USDA NRCS Plant Materials Center, Hoolehua, Hawaii has worked with Vetiver for a good many years  and has produced a Plant Guide "SUNSHINE VETIVER GRASS, Chrysopogon zizanioides (L.) Roberty, Plant Symbol = CHZI".  This is a very welcome  contribution in the expansion of vetiver applications throughout the tropics and semi-tropics.  Thank you Bob for the effort that you put into this guide.  

Importantly he stresses the low invasiveness risk of the plant, quote:

"For approximately the past 15 years, no volunteer seedlings have been observed from conservation plantings of Sunshine in the Pacific Islands Area. Sunshine was evaluated for invasiveness by the Hawaii-Pacific Weed Risk Assessment and Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk. It received a low risk score (-8) for the potential to become invasive."

I hope that this Guide lays to rest potential users worries over invasiveness issues. The Vetiver Network International and this blog have provided plenty of evidence of the good behavior of vetiver, including those sources quoted under the "Guide".

I am sure that Bob would appreciate constructive comments on the Guide in the event that he should update it in the future.

For new users of the Vetiver System you should be aware that "Sunshine" cultivar of Vetiver is named after the Vetiver grown by Eugene Le Blanc, at Sunshine, Louisiana, USA.  This cultivar has been grown in Louisiana for well over 100 years and has never shown signs of invasiveness.  This cultivar is very similar to other cultivars such as Monto (Australia), Hoffmnan (Central America), Natal, (South Africa), Jimma (Ethiopia), and Karnataka (India). All of these cultivars are sterile and all have been proven similar through DNA testing.

I recommend that the Guide is translated into national languages and used as support material when promoting the Vetiver System.

It gives me a good deal of pleasure to see the expanded use of Vetiver in the US.  There are many stakeholders involved in this expansion, I would especially draw attention to the efforts of Doug Richardson (California), Alberto Rodriguez (Puerto Rico), Charlie and Bonnie Pate (Alabama),  Duff Swann (Florida), and Mary Wilkowski (Hawaii).  All of these people and others are Vetiver producers, and some are landscapers as well.  I look forward to seeing more private sector involvement and more vetiver nursery businesses established as demand increases.

Dick Grimshaw


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