Our visit to L’occitane in Provence
This article is about the genus of flowering plants known as lavender. For the most widely cultivated species in that genus, see Lavandula angustifolia. For the colour see lavender (color), see Lavender (disambiguation).
39 species, including some hybrids, see text.
Lavandula (common name Lavender) is a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. It is native to the Old World and is found from Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, southern Europe across to northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean, southwest Asia to southeast India. Many members of the genus are cultivated extensively in temperate climates as ornamental plants for garden and landscape use, for use as culinary herbs, and also commercially for the extraction of essential oils. The most widely cultivated species, Lavandula angustifolia is often referred to as lavender, and there is a colour named for the shade of the flowers of this species.
To start your lavender garden in the spring, plant varieties that start blooming in early spring to midspring. Varieties such as Spanish lavender, “Yellow,” “Woolly” or “Sweet” lavender grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 8 through 10. These tend to bloom for four to six weeks, with the Spanish and sweet varieties finishing their bloom cycles earliest.
Spring to Summer
English lavender is the most common variety of lavender, growing best in zones 5 through 8. These varieties, such as “Munstead,” “Royal Purple” and “Hidcote,” tend to bloom late in the spring and into early summer. In Mediterranean climates, they stay in bloom for up to three to four weeks, unless the summer becomes unseasonably warm or humid.
Midsummer to Late Summer
Hybrid lavender varieties known as lavandins bloom longer than other varieties and start blooming later, usually in midsummer. Lavandins such as “Grosso,” Provence” and “Seal” are typically more drought- and heat-tolerant than other varieties, helping them grow through late summer.
Commercially the plant is grown mainly for the production of essential oil of lavender. This has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. These extracts are also used as fragrances for bath products.
English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) yields an essential oil with sweet overtones, and can be used in balms, salves, perfumes, cosmetics, and topical applications. Lavandin, Lavandula × intermedia (also known as Dutch lavender), yields a similar essential oil, but with higher levels of terpenes including camphor, which add a sharper overtone to the fragrance.
The lavandins Lavandula × intermedia are a class of hybrids of L. angustifolia and L. latifolia.
The lavandins are widely cultivated for commercial use, since their flowers tend to be bigger than those of English lavender and the plants tend to be easier to harvest, but lavandin oil is regarded by some to be of a lower quality than that of English lavender, with a perfume less sweet.
Lavender Medicinal use:
The essential oil was used in hospitals during World War I.
Lavender is used extensively with herbs and aromatherapy. Infusions are believed to soothe insect bites, burns, and headaches. Bunches of lavender repel insects. In pillows, lavender seeds and flowers aid sleep and relaxation.
An infusion of flowerheads added to a cup of boiling water is used to soothe and relax at bedtime. Lavender oil (or extract of Lavender) is used to treat acne when diluted 1:10 with water, rosewater, or witch hazel; it also treats skin burns and inflammatory conditions.
A study published in 2010 investigated anxiolytic effects and influence on sleep quality. Lavender oil with a high percentage of linalool and linalyl acetate, in the form of capsules, was generally well tolerated. It showed meaningful efficacy in alleviating anxiety and related sleep disturbances.
Lavender oil is approved for use as an anxiolytic in Germany under the name Lasea.
A survey paper on lavender and the nervous system published in 2013 states that, “there is growing evidence suggesting that lavender oil may be an effective medicament in treatment of several neurological disorders.”
Lavender may be very effective with wounds; however, Lavender Honey (created from bees feeding on lavender plants), instead of lavender essential oil has the best effects of uninfected wounds.