Lavandula (common name lavender) is a genus of flowering plants of at least 45 different species of lavender with over 450 varieties. Lavender is a perennial herb plant and is indigenous to the mountainous zones of the Mediterranean area where it grows in sunny, rocky habitats. It has a wonderful fragrance, likes lots of sunshine, and once established is very drought resistant. The name lavender comes from the Latin root lavare, which means "to wash" and is part of the mint family.
Some people say they do not like the "smell" of lavender. However, it might be the "chemical and/or synthetic fragrances" smells that is what they are really bothered with. The "natural" scent of lavender is sweet, floral, and also has herbal notes with balsamic undertones. Many people like this mild and pleasant scent and will use it in a variety of ways. Often the flowers and stems are harvested, dried, and tied in bundles. These bundles can be used for decorations to be enjoyed. The buds may also be used in sachets, as a calming herb, potpourri, and many other ways. The oil from the lavender plant can be used for aromatherapy or as an antiseptic. Many people use the essential oil in soaps, lotions, scrubs, or to even help one relax and reduce stress. Lavender is often used to flavor sugar or might be mixed with other herbs and used as flavoring for food.
Lavandin is another species of lavender. Lavendula x intermedia is a sterile hybrid between L. angustifolia and L. latifolia (Spike lavender). Lavandins usually are larger plants with longer, bigger, and more pointed flower spikes. The lavandins usually flower later than the angustifolia.
Lavender flowers are not just purple or lavender color. The colors range from a light lilac or lavender color to deep royal purple. One will also find that lavender blooms may be pink, white, yellow, red, green, and white- depending on the variety. In additon to the different colors, the blooms are different shapes and sizes. Some produce long spikes while others have short stems. Some plants grow five or more feet in diameter while others are just twelve or so inches.
Lavender is such a beautiful and diverse plant. With the various uses one can use lavender, it is no wonder that it is a favorite for many people. Enjoy the aroma and relax with this wonderful plant!