Complete Guide to Lavender
Herein we answer every question you have ever had about lavender, and then some.
What is Lavender?
Lavender is a flowering plant commonly known for its vibrant purple color and distinct calming scent.
In the scientific community, Lavender is known as “Lavandula.” Lavender is a genus, or biological classification rank, and part of the Mint family called Lamiaceae. Over 39 species of Lavender are known, in violet, lilac, blue, blackish purple, and yellow colors. Lavender plants are either annual plants with a lifespan of 1 year or perennial plants, with a lifespan over 2 years.
Lavender can yield a large amount of nectar, which make it popular among bees and butterflies. Bees can actually make a pretty high-quality honey using Lavender’s nectar.
Where did Lavender come from?
Lavender is native to Africa, Asia, and Europe, and has been harvested by humans for thousands of years.
Ancient Greeks and Romans used Lavender for fragrance and medicinal purposes, more specifically they would use Lavender in baths. During the Middle Ages, Lavender was used to deodorize homes and act insect repellent. During the Renaissance, Lavender was used to relieve headaches.
Today, Lavender habitats a wider range of geographic locations.
A major percentage of the world’s commercial lavender is grown in France, where there even exists a “Lavender Route” for tourists. Another large producer is countries in Eastern Europe, New Zealand, and China.
Lavender can be found in North America, such as Seattle, Quebec, and Sacramento. It is also possible to grow Lavender at home, or buy a pot of Lavender from your local gardening store. In the United States, the city of Sequim, Washington has been deemed the “Lavender Capital of North America.” Sequim, Washington has the ideal climate and humidity for growing Lavender.
Where did the name ‘Lavender’ mean?
The word “Lavender” derives from the Latin word for “to wash”, or “lavare.” The reason why Lavender is associated with washing is because ancient Romans used lavender for bathing. However, there is also the possibility that the word “Lavender” comes from another Latin word for “blueish, or “livere.” Either way, both explanations describe Lavender perfectly.
How many types of Lavender are there?
Given the over 39 species of lavender, there many varieties of Lavender to choose from based on your needs and purposes.
English Lavender is the one that comes to mind for most people and the most common type of Lavender. Contrary to its name, English Lavender is not from England. It is native to the Mediterranean and the ideal species for gardening, cooking, potpourri, and oils. English lavenders are perennials and can grow up to 3 feet in the spring and summer.
French Lavender is actually not as commonly cultivated as English since it is less hardy, but also native to the Mediterranean, including France. French Lavender is generally taller than English, and will grow about 3 feet tall. The scent from French Lavender is lighter and has hints of rosemary. The French Lavender flowers bloom the longest, and start in spring and continue through the summer. The French Lavender plant is still popular for gardening and commercially used for air fresheners, insecticides, and insect repellent. The flowers are also consumed for headaches, irritation, colds, and nausea. The plant is also used for its antiseptic, digestive, antispasmodic, antibacterial, and aromatherapeutic properties.
Spanish Lavender is another common plant for gardening, but due to its lighter scent, is more often used for landscaping than for oils.
What does Lavender smell like?
Lavender smells sweet and herbal, with a distinct flowery scent. The Lavender scent is refreshing, calming, and soothing.
What does Lavender taste like?
Lavender is a popular ingredient in foods, such as cakes, lattes, or meats. Lavender’s distinct flavor is a sweet fragrance with a hint of citrus. You are more likely able to smell Lavender before you can taste it.
How is Lavender used in food?
Most lavender stems and leaves are edible, and require very little work to prepare them as a cooking ingredient. It is recommend to use English Lavender, also known as “Munstead”, in your cooking as they are the most fragrant.
For teas, Lavender flowers can be blended in with the tea leaves to create a calming flavor and scent. You can add the lavender to any type of tea, such as green or herbal. You can also add Lavender to milks and add it to tea or coffee. Lavender Lattes are delicious and on occasion found in cafes.
You can also add the lavender plant leaves or flowers to stews, jams, or vinegar.
What are medicinal properties of Lavender?
Lavender is used as an antiseptic and an anti-inflammatory, as well as a natural insect repellent. The oil extracts are also used for cleaning and bathing. In World War I, lavender essential oil was used in hospitals. Today, lavender essential oil is being studied for its potential for treating anxiety and sleep disorders.
What is Lavender Oil?
Lavender oil comes from the flower buds, which produce the scent and flavor that we recognized as lavender. Commercially, lavender plants are grown for predominantly its essential oils. The essential oil is believed to be able to disinfect wounds and burns, treat insomnia, and rheumatic pain. The oil is also used as insect repellent.
How is dried lavender used?
Dried Lavender is used in households in mainly two forms: the stem with flower buds and the flower buds in satchels. Dried stems can be displayed for their beauty and scent. The satchels can be used to scent drawers or as incense.
What other uses are there for Lavender?
Aromatherapy-- Lavender oil is used for aromatherapy, massages, as well as for calming, treating depression, and alleviating sleep problems.
Cosmetic-- Lavender-scented water is used on sensitive skin to increase the speed of cell-turnover as well as an antiseptic for acne. Lavender is also often added to soap products.