Andropogon muricatus Retz.; Andropogon squarrosus Cooke; Andropogon zizanioides Urb.; Veti-veria odorata Virey
FIGURE 1.117 Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides).
Dan also and Javan going to and fro occupied in thy fairs: bright iron, cassia, and calamus, were in thy market.
Ezekiel 27:19 (KJV)
[A]nd wine from Uzal they exchanged for your wares; wrought iron, cassia, and calamus were bartered for your merchandise.
Ezekiel 27:19 (RSV)
Vedan and Javan from Uzal — for your stores they gave. Iron in wrought works, cassia and cane — for your articles of exchange they proved to be.
Ezekiel 27:19 (NWT)
Whether I was right in suggesting vetiver for this biblical calamus or cane, an association not ventured by any of my major sources, it seems to have been an aromatic cane-like vetiver, imported from afar, as the cassia in the same passage. Cassia could have been imported from the Indian subcontinent; so could vetiver; and so could Acorus calamus. Moldenke and Moldenke (BIB) identified it with the obscure binomial Andropogon aromaticus Roxb., which some authors have equated with Vetiveria, others with Andropogon (Cymbopogon) schoenanthus L, one of the "lemon-grass" assemblage; they also suggested Andropogon muricatus, now considered a synonym of vetiver. Zohary identifies it with Cymbopogon. Suggestions that it might be the calamus of today (Acorus calamus) have generally been rejected. Acorus calamus did not apparently occur in biblical Palestine (ZOH), and was less likely to have been imported than the lemon-grass or vetiver, to either of which the alternative translation "sweet cane" seems more appropriate. Oil of vetiver is described as one of the most valuable and most important perfumers' raw materials, widely used in perfumes, cosmetics, and for the scenting of soaps. In Hispaniola, the plant is cultivated as a medicinal and aromatic tea material. It serves for making awnings, bags, baskets, fans, mats, pillows, sachets, screens, and sunshades, and is used for thatch in Haiti. Young leaves, not being too aromatic, may serve as fodder (BIB).
Although originally from India, vetiver is a major money crop in Haiti, but is probably more important for holding the soil there. Although one hears a lot about it, as of Groundhog Day 2005, there were fewer than 20 abstracts on it on PubMed. But by June 15, 2005, Wilde et al. had described phytoextraction of lead from firing range soil with vetiver (X15964059). (Mark Dafforn, who for decades has been interested in vetiver, has passed on some common names tidbits that I would like to share. I have included as personal communications from Mark Dafforn, in this account only, with PER.)
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