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.
There is a steady demand for the oil, though the crop has become unsustainable for farmers due to the low market price. This almost halted production and price has doubled in the past three months. The Indonesian vetiver variety has a smoky note. Even though it is not preferable, it could potentially replace the Haiti variety in certain formulas. This is because of the geopolitical issues in Haiti, which have become a hindrance to vetiver production. Until the recent instability, Haiti was the leading global producer of vetiver.
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