Vetiver oil is obtained by steam distillation of dried roots of vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides).
Vetiver can grow up to 1.5 metres high and wide. The stems are tall and the leaves are long, thin, and rather rigid; the flowers are brownish-purple. Somewhat uniquely, vetiver has deep and well-matted roots which can grow anything up 4 metres in depth.
Originating in India, vetiver is widely cultivated in the tropical regions of the world. The world's major producers include Haiti, India, Java (Indonesia), and Réunion.
Cultivated for the fragrant essential oil distilled from its roots, vetiver is deeply integrated into the western perfumery industry.
Worldwide production is estimated at about 250 tons per annum of which Indonesia contributes between 25 and 30 metric tons.
Vetiver has excellent fixative properties, making it a good woody base in perfumes, in particular men’s fragrances.
Some notable examples include Dior's Eau Sauvage, Guerlain Vetiver, Mr. Vetiver by Une Nuit a Bali, Zizan by Ormonde Jayne and Vetiver by L'Occitane.
The introduction of technology-backed distillation processes has led to a significant improvement in the quality of oil at source. As a result, end-users are being wooed back to the Indonesian variety of vetiver, and this augurs well for the industry. Currently, production and demand remain at an equilibrium. However, the signs are positive. The market is looking at a healthy increase in demand in the coming months, which will shake up the hitherto stable vetiver market.
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