Exotic grass could thrive in South Carolina, experts say

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – A subtropical grass might one day be grown in yards across South Carolina.

On Sunday environmentalists from Charleston and South Africa studied Vetiver Grass at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center in Florence.

Vetiver Grass was first introduced to the United States during the early 1900’s.

Roley Noffke lives in South Africa. He began his research on Vetiver more than 20 years ago.

“Domestic farmers in South Africa plant it and feed it to their stock and it helps control parasites in their stomachs so it has a lot of purposes,” said Noffke.

Noffke says the plant grows fast in dense bunches. He says people in Africa weave the shoots into baskets and use its soil in fragrances. He also says what’s most interesting is the plants long roots that are often crafted into window shades.

“Interesting enough it has a MPA of about 75 which is one sixth a strength a mile of steel,” added Noffke.

Experts say the Vetiver Grass can grow up to seven feet tall and has the ability to adapt in dry conditions.

“This grass is probably about six or seven years old whereas the vetiver in front of me is about one year old. We’ll be able to compare the two in about another year as far as overall yield potential with these type of soils we have in south Carolina,” said Clemson University Professor James Frederick.

“I’m just so proud to be able to witness to see the different byproducts that this plant has to offer. I think we’re in good shape if we can get this plant researched thoroughly and get Roly down here to plant a couple acres here and throughout South Carolina,” said Darlington County Representative Robert Williams.

The companies sponsoring the research from South Africa and outside of Charleston are in town until Tuesday morning.




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