Discover the surprising benefits of gongolili roots
The vetiver called Chrysopogon nigritanus (Benth.) Veldkamp is a herbaceous plant of the Poaceae (grasses) family. This species is also known by the scientific name of Vetiveria nigitana (Benth.) Stapf). It is called gongolili in Dioula and roudouma in Mooré.
It is a persistent tropical herbaceous, with fragrant roots which occupies flood-prone areas. It is one of the oldest plants on the planet. It is mentioned in Mesopotamia 5,000 years before Jesus Christ, for its aromatic and antiseptic properties.
The plant is in the form of large green tufts, the root of which, developing vertically, can reach depths of up to two to three meters (photo 1). The green foliage consists of leathery, narrow, long and thin leaves with a strong curvature of the midrib.
The edges of the leaves are very finely serrated and sharp. Flowering occurs at the end of the rainy season. The flowers are arranged in racemes composed of 15 to 20 whorls. The roots or rhizomes are relatively short. Some ecotypes can grow down roots as deep as 4, 5 or even 6m while others can be only 3m.
Chrysopogon nigritanus is distinguished from Chrysopogon zizanioides, native to Asia (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand and Indochina) which has naturalized in other subtropics. It is cultivated in particular in India and the island of Reunion, Java, Madagascar and Haiti. These roots are rich in essential oils (sweet and pleasant vetiver oil). These essential oils are used in aromatherapy and perfumery. They are mainly used in male perfumes, more rarely in female perfumes.
In traditional medicine, gongolili roots called khamaré in Wolof or vertiver in manding help cleanse impurities from the stomach, treat stomach aches during painful periods or after childbirth and finally prevent urinary tract infections. In Senegal, the roots of the plant are traditionally used to calm emotional stress and as an aphrodisiac. Young girls use an infusion made from the roots to relieve cramps caused by periods. It is also used to clean female private parts. In Casamance, root powder is used to accelerate wound healing and heal open wounds.
Vetiver roots are mainly used and sold as a water purifier. When you take a sip of canary water soaked in vetiver roots, the impressions are a feeling of freshness as if it comes out of the fridge, but above all, a natural smell. These roots are used to remove pathogens from the water. The essential properties are that water soaked with vetiver roots gives a good intimate smell during bowel movements and allows easy humidification of the female organ. The method of use varies: some people put a few stems of the root in the water bottles to consume; others, on the other hand, boil them in water and consume the result obtained over time.
The preparation of a powerful aphrodisiac for women would be made by inserting twigs of vetiver into a bottle containing an infusion of seeds of gowé or gwé in Wolof (Cyperus rotondus), an aquatic plant. Everything is kept cool as a drink. In Mooré, this sedge is called ka-pin-ba, or immature millet according to Nacoulma (1996). This name translates the result of the action of the plant, namely close pregnancies or short inter-reproductive space.
The roots then have disinfectant properties and aphrodisiac properties.
A few vetiver root fragments can be placed in the cabinet or dresser to help scent the laundry.
The other benefits of gongolili roots (vertiver) are:
1.it increases soil fertility (benefit other plants around it)
2.it retains water and moisture in the soil with its roots, which reduce water consumption
- with its roots, it fixes and stabilizes soil movements.
4.It prevents and even stops erosion, and soil loss, by runoff and wind
5.it constitutes an effective windbreak
6.it absorbs and fixes carbon from the atmosphere, contributing to the fight against global warming
7.It increases production by 15-30% in fields, planted at the edge
8.It reduces attacks by pests like termites
9.it can be a fodder source (rejections) for animals and a source of adaptation to drought
- it is also a source of income by making basketry.
Indeed, gongolili can be used in crafts and help generate income and fight poverty. In fact, the inflorescences are picked at maturity, when they present a reddish color. The central inflorescence about 1m long is divided into 2 or 3 if for the making of hats and vans by including the stems the stems of Sporobolus pyramidalis (gan-saaga in mooré) during the rainy season by the shepherds generally.
The plant also has the ability to withstand drought, grow in different types of soil, resist fires, floods and ebbs for long periods, insects and several plant pathologies.
Gongolili can produce large amounts of biomass and is an excellent renewable source of fodder for animals when cut or fed very early (young shoots). Unlike what happens with other grasses, the mowing process or grazing does not affect the development of the plant. From the next rains, or by watering, it grows back. When planted where there is access to water or moisture, it can provide fodder all year round.
Gongolili has been shown to have a deterrent effect against certain insects and critters. In other cases, it acts as a ‘trap’, when planted alongside other crops, vetiver attracts critters such as, insects, termites, keeps them away from main crops, and thus exposes them. to their natural predator and without suffering any devastating effects.
This is why it is used to protect banana plantations, corn and millet fields in some parts of the world. Its efficacy against nematodes in the soil has been demonstrated. Better yet, there are studies that show that the roots of vetiver contain elements that have deterrent effects against insects. No declaration of toxicity for the uses is made.
However, the natural vetiver stands that occupied the flood-prone areas and the edges of many drainage axes have declined significantly. In fact, the gradual decrease in rainfall and the occupation of these wetter areas by crops can help explain the reduction in the areas covered by vetiver.
Nevertheless, the plant can be cultivated.
How to grow gongolili plant
Growing vetiver is done on the sandy soils that suit it best. The plant likes deep, moist, cool soils. As it has the ability to grow its roots several meters deep to ensure its water supply, it can withstand dry soils.
Vetiver can only be propagated by dividing the roots. This operation is to be carried out in May / June, reserving part of the stock to keep the mother plant. Then the roots and foliage are shortened by balancing their lengths. Then we water well after transplanting to promote recovery.
As vetiver is sober, when planting it is necessary to add homemade compost or a classic NPK 17.17.17 type fertilizer. When the leaf begins to turn pale, this is the signal for a need for fertilizer, especially nitrogen.
Vetiver can also be grown in pots in homes using a mixture of 7 volumes of topsoil to 2 volumes of sand. Planting is transplanted. But it is advisable to change the pot when the roots invade the whole pot. After depositing the plant, ruffle the roots, spread them in the planting hole and backfill with good soil, watering immediately. For a change of pot, plan a pot of double size and high shape.
She needs regular watering. For a culture in full ground, you will transplant your vetiver in a sufficiently loosened ground by leaving a consequent bowl and you will water it immediately and every following days. After observing its acclimatization (15 days / 3 weeks depending on the climate) you will only water every other day, then every 3 days, each time adding a fairly large quantity of water, the goal being to properly humidify the column of earth under the plant. The roots will follow this humid column always lower.
To conclude, nature has given us everything and it is up to us to use it well for our happiness. For this we must seek the right knowledge to flourish healthily.
We hope the article on the benefits of gongolili roots has been of great help.