Lavandula (common name “lavender”) is a genus of flowering plants of at least 45 different species of lavender with over 450 varieties. The name lavender comes from the Latin root lavare, which means "to wash" and is part of the mint family.
A perennial herb, lavender is indigenous to the mountainous zones of the Mediterranean where it grows in sunny, rocky habitats. It has a wonderful fragrance, likes ample sunshine, and, once established, is very drought resistant.
Lavender’s fragrance is sweet and floral, with herbal notes and balsamic undertones. Many people like its mild and pleasant fragrance and will use it in a variety of ways.
Often the flowers and stems are harvested, dried, and tied in bundles to be used for decor. The buds are also used in sachets, as a calming herb, potpourri, and many other ways. Lavender buds can also be used to flavor sugar, or, when mixed with other herbs, is a fantastic seasoning for food.
Essential oil distilled from the lavender plant can be used for aromatherapy or as an antiseptic. It’s often used in soaps, lotions, scrubs, or for its therapeutic properties for stress and relaxation.
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.
Contrary to popular belief, lavender flowers are not just purple or the typical “lavender” shade. Colors range from a light lilac, almost white, to deep royal purple. One will also find that lavender blooms may be pink, yellow, red, green, or white depending on the variety.
In addition to a rainbow of different colors, lavender blooms come in many different shapes and sizes. Some produce long, narrow spikes while others have short, thicker stems. Some varieties grow to five or more feet in diameter, while others are just 12 inches.
Lavender is a beautiful and diverse plant with a multitude of various uses, so it’s no wonder that it’s a favorite for many people – ourselves included.