A Beginner’s Guide on How to Spot Kusha Grass

How to Identify Kusha Grass

Kusha grass is a sacred herb in Hinduism and other cultures. It’s famous for its many health benefits, purification, healing, and protection of the mind and body from negative energy.

However, identifying types of grass is confusing to most of us because they all seem to look like the same short leaves on the ground. So, how can you tell which is kusha grass from imposters?

We’re here to walk you through every step in identifying kusha grass in the right places and enjoy its uses and benefits. Let’s get started! 

What is kusha grass?

What is kusha grass
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Kusha grass is a tall perennial plant that grows long green leaves in dry, sandy soils. It is a sacred herb used in rituals and ceremonies in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. 

Kusha grass got its name from the Sanskrit word “kush” or “kushastha,” which means strong or vigorous. When kusha grass is dry, it is called Durva or Dharbai grass.

It symbolizes purity, auspiciousness, longevity, stability and strength and is known for its ability to promote positive thoughts. 

Kusha is mentioned in one of the oldest sacred texts of Hinduism called Vedas. During their worship rituals called puja, kusha grass is used to make offerings and mats for gods and priests. 

Hinduism also has fire rituals that use kusha to create a sacred fire. This grass is also used in weddings to make garlands that tie the knot between the bride and groom, while in Hindu funerals, kusha grass is used to make funeral pyres. 

Kusha grass has long, slender leaves, typically arranged in two rows and comes in green, yellow or brown colors. It’s a good source of fiber, vitamins A and C, and an effective insect repellent. 

Kusha grass is also a medicinal herb because of its anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties used to treat dysentery, diarrhea and fever. 

What does kusha grass look like?

What does kusha grass look like
Image: Hindu Blog
Scientific NameDesmostachya bipinnata
Common NameKusha grass, darbha grass, pavitram, munja grass
FamilyPoaceae (grass family)
LightFull sun to partial shade
SoilWell-drained soil
Height3 to 6 feet
Growth RateModerate
MaintenanceLow
Use/sReligious ceremonies and rituals
Ayurvedic medicine
Thatching
Basket weaving
Papermaking
Biofuel

Kusha grass has long, slender leaves with sharp edges that come in green, yellow or brown. They have distinct reddish-brown swollen nodes at each point of the stem where the leaves attach. 

Kusha grass also produces small white flowers during summer and early fall, arranged in clusters at the top of the stem. It reaches 3 to 6 feet tall and is a relatively low-maintenance plant, preferring well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. 

They also have hard and deep roots, which makes it easy for them to regenerate and absorb water deep into the soil. 

This is a perennial grass native to the low-lying marshes of India and Southeast Asia. They’re extensively used in Hindu rituals as mats, garlands, funeral pyres, or to purify objects. 

Religious Significance of Kusha Grass

Religious Significance of Kusha Grass
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Kusha grass is a sacred herb in Hinduism mentioned in the Vedas, and is used in Hindu rituals, ceremonies and worship. It is believed to purify, heal and protect the body and mind from negativity. 

According to Hindu legend, kusha grass first emerged during the churning of cosmic seas called Samundra Manthan. This was a pivotal event where Lord Vishnu transformed into a cosmic tortoise. 

This cosmic tortoise has hair made of kusha grass, which gained healing properties when a drop of Amrita, the nectar of immortality, fell on it. 

In an excerpt from Vedas, Sri Rama entered the Sarayu river holding a sacred tuft of kusha grass while chanting mantras on the Supreme Brahman. 

The pointed top of this tall grass is also believed to represent the Sudarshana Chakra, which is the power of Lord Vishnu to destroy all evil and protect the good. 

On the other hand, in Hindu mythology, kusha grass is a powerful tool in warding off death and living a long, healthy life. In the Hindu ceremony Darbashtami, kusha grass is used to purify their offerings and make sacred seats for the gods and deities.

Medicinal Benefits of Kusha Grass

Medicinal Benefits of Kusha Grass
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Kusha grass is a medicinal herb with anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties that treat severe debility, digestive problems and boost the immune system. 

For instance, kusha grass helps reduce pain and swelling brought on by arthritis, muscle pain and gout. It also helps fight skin, respiratory and urinary tract infections because of its anti-bacterial properties. 

Kusha grass also helps improve digestion and relieves diarrhea, ulcers, gastritis, colitis and constipation. Making kusha oil or flavored juice can also be a diuretic to treat the common cold, flu, asthma, bronchitis and even allergies. 

Kusha Grass Seeds

Kusha Grass Seeds
Image: Plant Gardener

Kusha grass seeds are tiny brown seeds from the kusha grass plant. They’re used for the propagation of kusha grass, to make medicines, and in religious rituals and offerings.

Kusha grass seeds are usually sown in pots or on the ground in moist, well-drained soil. They take about two weeks to germinate and must be protected from frost in cold winter areas. 

It’s best to sow kusha seeds in the spring or fall and fertilize them with a balanced fertilizer every few weeks. With proper care, kusha grass will thrive in your garden for many years. 

Kusha seeds are also used to make medicine because of their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. They can treat digestive problems, urinary tract infections, skin diseases and even reproductive problems. 

In Hinduism, kusha seeds are used to make sacred threads worn to wad off negative energy. They’re also used to make offerings to deities, such as mats and garlands, because of their purifying abilities. 

Where does kusha grass grow well?

Where does kusha grass grow well
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Kusha grass grows best in well-drained soil, full sun and tropical and subtropical regions. It is a drought-tolerant perennial plant that thrives in warm and humid climates. 

Kusha grass thrives in tropical and subtropical regions, although it can also grow in temperate areas but is less abundant than in the former. They also love warm and humid climates, so they grow in rice paddies, riverbanks and wetlands.

This sacred plant prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil, but avoid planting them in areas where water pools to prevent them from suffering from root rot. They’re commonly found in brackish water in clumps of grass. 

Here’s a list of countries where kusha grass thrives well.

  1. India
  2. Nepal
  3. Pakistan
  4. Bangladesh
  5. Sri Lanka
  6. Myanmar
  7. Thailand
  8. Laos
  9. Cambodia
  10. Vietnam
  11. China
  12. Japan
  13. Australia
  14. Africa

FAQs on Kusha Grass

Is kusha grass an invasive species?


Kusha grass is not an invasive species because it is a slow-growing plant with roots that grow less than 2 meters deep, making it less likely to outcompete plants in nutrition and water. 

Are kusha and darbha the same?


Kusha and darbha grass refer to the same plant, Desmostachya bipinnata. Both names are alternatively used in Hindu rituals and ceremonies and in treating ailments.

What are the properties of kusha grass?


Kusha grass is a tall, slender grass with pointed edges and medicinal properties used to treat skin, respiratory and reproductive problems. It also has purifying and healing properties, making it a sacred herb in Hinduism.

What is kusha grass used for?


Kusha grass is used as a sacred grass in religious rituals in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, and as a medicinal herb to treat diarrhea, skin diseases, and other diseases.
They also make strong fibers to make paper, ropes and baskets.

What is the benefit of Kusha mat?


Kusha mats give a cooling effect to the body, making them ideal for meditation, yoga or reducing stress and anxiety and improving sleep quality. In Hinduism, sitting on kusha mats purifies and heals the mind and body. 

What is the English name of kusha grass?


Kusha grass is known in English as halfa grass, big cordgrass and salt reed-grass.

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