Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae), Lavandula species
Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984.
Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature
on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate
Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.
Lavender is the name for any of several aromatic shrubs, including
English lavender, Lavandula angustifolia Mill. subsp. angustifolia,
and French lavender, Lavandula dentata L. English lavender,
formerly classified as Lavandula delphinensis Jord ex Billot,
Lavandula officinalis Chaix, Lavandula spica
L., and Lavandula vera D.C., is native to southern Europe
and the Mediterranean area. Cultivated extensively for perfume
and ornamental purposes in several European countries, the plant
reaches a height of about one meter, has linear, lanceolate leaves
covered with a velvety pubescence, and develops blue or purple
flowers. French lavender, also known as fringed lavender, and
formerly classified as Lavandula delphinensis Hort., is
native to Spain. Grown as a popular ornamental, plants have long,
linear, toothed, tomentose leaves that are a gray color and flowers
that are a purplish color.
The reported life zone of lavender is 7 to 211Cdeg;C with an annual
precipitation of 0.3 to 1.3 meters and a soil pH of 5.8 to 8.3
(4.1-31). Lavender grows in well drained, dry, calcareous
soils located in full sun. Plants can be directly seeded, but
are usually transplanted from vegetative cuttings. Growth is slow,
and it takes a few years for the crop to develop fully. Some varieties
have been bred to display their terminal inflorescence high above
the foliage to facilitate hand and mechanized harvesting. Established
plantings can last as long as thirty years. Lavender oil is obtained
by the immediate steam distillation or solvent extraction of flowers
harvested at full bloom. The essential oil contains linalyl acetate,
linalool, 1,8-cineole, camphor, -pinene, and many other
volatile constituents (8.3-78, 14.1-8). The concrete
and absolute are commercially available.
The leaves and flowers of lavender are used in regions where the
plant is grown as a flavoring in salads, dressings, fruit desserts,
jellies, and wines (14.1-23) . The plant and oil are used
in herbal teas and as a flavoring mixed with black teas. Flowers
and leaves are sometimes used in sachets, potpourris, and dried
bouquets. The plant material is used to perfume linen and scent
tobacco. The oil is used in perfumes, toilet water, and cosmetics.
The plants are grown as ornamentals along garden borders, in rock
gardens, and as potted outdoor plants. The plants are also grown
near highways for beautification and stabilization of soil. Lavender
plants are attractive to bees.
As a medicinal plant, the lavenders have traditionally been considered
antispasmodics, carminatives, diuretics, nervines, stimulants,
and tonics. They have been used as a folk remedy against colic
and headaches. The essential oil of lavender is reported to have
antiseptic, carminative, and spasmolytic activity (11.1-154).
The leaves are considered to be an insect repellent (14.1-23).
Cultivated for perfumery and ornamental purposes, Spanish lavender,
Lavandula stoechas L., also known as French lavender, has
narrow tomentose leaves and purplish flowers. Spike or broad-leaved
lavender, Lavandula latifolia Medic., has wide, gray-green
tomentose leaves and is collected in the countryside of Spain
for use in perfume. Lavandin, Lavandula hybrida Reverchon,
is a hybrid of English and spike lavender and is reported to supply
one of the most important essential oils in the fragrance industry
(8.2-48). The plants produce a high yield of lower quality
lavender oil, which is used in the less expensive perfumes, in
scenting soaps, and in the adulteration of other higher-quality
lavender oils (14.1-8).
English lavender is generally recognized as safe for human consumption
as a natural flavoring, and spike lavender and lavandin are generally
recognized as safe for use as natural plant extracts/ essential
oils (21 CFR sections 182.10, 182.20 ).
[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in
full in the original reference].
Last modified 6-Dec-1997