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    * Lavandula *


    (Wikipedia) - Lavandula 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). Lavender Scientific classification Type species Synonyms
    Lavender flowers with bracts
    Kingdom: Plantae
    (unranked): Angiosperms
    (unranked): Eudicots
    (unranked): Asterids
    Order: Lamiales
    Family: Lamiaceae
    Subfamily: Nepetoideae
    Tribe: Lavanduleae
    Genus: Lavandula
    Lavandula spica L.
    • Stoechas Mill.
    • Fabricia Adans.
    • Styphonia Medik.
    • Chaetostachys Benth.
    • Sabaudia Buscal. & Muschl.
    • Isinia Rech.f.

    Lavandula (common name lavender) is a genus of 39 known 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.



    The genus includes annual or short-lived herbaceous perennial plants, and shrub-like perennials, subshrubs or small shrubs.

    Leaf shape is diverse across the genus. They are simple in some commonly cultivated species; in others they are pinnately toothed, or pinnate, sometimes multiple pinnate and dissected. In most species the leaves are covered in fine hairs or indumentum, which normally contain the essential oils.

    Flowers are borne in whorls, held on spikes rising above the foliage, the spikes being branched in some species. Some species produce coloured bracts at the apices. The flowers may be blue, violet or lilac in the wild species, occasionally blackish purple or yellowish. The calyx is tubular. The corolla is also tubular, usually with five lobes (the upper lip often cleft, and the lower lip has two clefts).

    Nomenclature and taxonomy

    L. stoechas, L. pedunculata and L. dentata were known in Roman times. From the Middle Ages onwards, the European species were considered two separate groups or genera, Stoechas (L. stoechas, L. pedunculata, L. dentata) and Lavandula (L. spica and L. latifolia), until Linnaeus combined them. He only recognised five species in Species Plantarum (1753), L. multifida and L. dentata (Spain) and L. stoechas and L. spica from Southern Europe. L. pedunculata was included within L. stoechas.

    By 1790 L. pinnata and L. carnosa were recognised. The latter was subsequently transferred to Anisochilus. By 1826 Frédéric Charles Jean Gingins de la Sarraz listed 12 species in three sections, and by 1848 eighteen species were known.

    One of the first modern major classifications was that of Dorothy Chaytor in 1937 at Kew. The six sections she proposed for 28 species still left many intermediates that could not easily be assigned. Her sections included Stoechas, Spica, Subnudae, Pterostoechas, Chaetostachys and Dentatae. However all the major cultivated and commercial forms resided in the Stoechas and Spica sections. There were four species within Stoechas (Lavandula stoechas, L. dentata, L. viridis and L. pedunculata) while Spica had three (L. officinalis (now L. angustifolia), L. latifolia and L. lanata). She believed that the garden varieties were hybrids between true lavender L. angustifolia and spike lavender (L. latifolia).

    More recently work has been done by Upson and Andrews, and currently Lavandula is considered to have three subgenera.

    In addition there are numerous hybrids and cultivars in commercial and horticultural usage.


    The English word lavender is generally thought to be derived from Old French lavandre, ultimately from the Latin lavare (to wash), referring to the use of infusions of the plants. The botanic name Lavandula as used by Linnaeus is considered to be derived from this and other European vernacular names for the plants. However it is suggested that this explanation may be apocryphal, and that the name may actually be derived from Latin livere, "blueish".

    The names widely used for some of the species, "English lavender", "French lavender" and "Spanish lavender" are all imprecisely applied. "English lavender" is commonly used for L. angustifolia, though some references say the proper term is "Old English Lavender". The name "French lavender" may be used to refer to either L. stoechas or to L. dentata. "Spanish lavender" may be used to refer to L. stoechas, L. lanata or L. dentata.

    CultivationA bee on a lavender flower

    The most common form in cultivation is the common or English lavender Lavandula angustifolia (formerly named L. officinalis). A wide range of cultivars can be found. Other commonly grown ornamental species are L. stoechas, L. dentata, and L. multifida (Egyptian lavender).

    Because the cultivated forms are planted in gardens worldwide, they are occasionally found growing wild as garden escapes, well beyond their natural range. Commonly such adventitious establishment is apparently harmless at best, but in some cases Lavandula species have become invasive; for example, in Australia Lavandula stoechas has become a cause for concern; it occurs widely throughout the continent, and has been declared a noxious weed in Victoria since 1920. It also is regarded as a weed in parts of Spain.

    Lavenders flourish best in dry, well-drained, sandy or gravelly soils in full sun. All types need little or no fertilizer and good air circulation. In areas of high humidity, root rot due to fungus infection can be a problem. Organic mulches can trap moisture around the plants'' bases, encouraging root rot. Gravelly materials such as crushed rocks give better results.

    Lavender oil Main article: Lavender oil

    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.

    Culinary useLavender infused cupcakes

    It is grown as a condiment and used in salads and dressings. Flowers yield abundant nectar from which bees make a high-quality honey. Monofloral honey is produced primarily around the Mediterranean, and is marketed worldwide as a premium product. Flowers can be candied and are sometimes used as cake decorations. Lavender flavours baked goods and desserts (it pairs especially well with chocolate), and is also used to make "lavender sugar". Lavender flowers are occasionally blended with black, green, or herbal teas.

    Though it has many other traditional uses in southern France, lavender is not used in traditional southern French cooking. It does not appear at all in the best-known compendium of Provençal cooking, J.-B. Reboul''s Cuisinière Provençale In the 1970s, a herb blend called herbes de Provence usually including lavender was invented by spice wholesalers, and lavender has more recently become popular in cookery.

    Lavender lends a floral and slightly sweet flavour to most dishes, and is sometimes paired with sheep''s-milk and goat''s-milk cheeses. For most cooking applications the dried buds, which are also referred to as flowers, are used. Some chefs experiment with the leaves but only the buds contain the essential oil of lavender, from which the scent and flavour of lavender are derived. In the United States, both lavender syrup and dried lavender buds are used to make lavender scones and marshmallows.

    Medical usesBunches of lavender repel insectsSee also: Therapeutic uses section of lavender oil article

    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.

    Health precautions

    The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that lavender is considered likely safe in food amounts and possibly safe in medicinal amounts. NIH does not recommend the use of lavender while pregnant or breast-feeding because of lack of knowledge of its effects. It recommends caution if young boys use lavender oil because of possible hormonal effects leading to gynecomastia, and states that lavender can cause skin irritation.

    Gynecomastia See also: Contraindications section of lavender oil article

    A study was published in 2007 on the use of lavender and gynecomastia in prepubescent boys. Three young boys developed gynecomastia while using products containing lavender. The boys stopped using the products, and the gynecomastia went away. The researchers found that lavender and tea tree oil can cause estrogenic and antiandrogenic activities in cell cultures, and the paper states that "repeated topical exposure to lavender and tea tree oils probably caused prepubertal gynecomastia in these boys." After the study was published The New England Journal of Medicine received letters disputing the paper''s findings, and the authors were allowed to respond.

    The Aromatherapy Trade Council of the UK and the Australian Tea Tree Association have published rebuttals.

    The Aromatherapy Trade Council''s rebuttal states among other things that:

    The Australian Tea Tree Industry Association rebuttal states that various other plants have estrogen inducing effects in essential oil form, including, "soy, hops, garbanzo beans, red clover, lentils, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, alfalfa sprouts, liquorice, and ginseng."

    A study published in 2010 from the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials did not find estrogenic activity from lavender oil in laboratory animals. A newer version of the paper became available in 2013.

    Skin Irritant

    In 2004 a study was published which found that, "lavender oil is cytotoxic to human skin cells in vitro". On the other hand, aromatherapist Robert Tisserand points out in a blog post that: "Any type of in vitro test is only suggestive of a possible effect. You can never assume that the same effect will take place in the living body."

    A review published in 2005 on lavender essential oil states that, "Lavender is traditionally regarded as a ''safe'' oil and, although it was recently reported that lavender oil, and its major constituent linalyl acetate, are toxic to human skin cells in vitro, contact dermatitis to lavender oil appears to occur at only a very low frequency."


    A study was published in 2007 which looked a the relationship between various fragrances and photosensitivity. The study stated that lavender is known "to elicit cutaneous phototoxic reactions". However, the research did not find that lavender induced photohaemolysis.

    Other usesLavender products for sale at the San Francisco Farmers Market.

    Flower spikes are used for dried flower arrangements. The fragrant, pale purple flowers and flower buds are used in potpourris. Lavender is also used extensively as herbal filler inside sachets used to freshen linens. Dried and sealed in pouches, lavender flowers are placed among stored items of clothing to give a fresh fragrance and to deter moths. Dried lavender flowers have become recently popular for wedding confetti. Lavender is also popular in scented waters and sachets.

    In history and culture

    The ancient Greeks called the lavender herb nardus, after the Syrian city of Naarda (possibly the modern town of Dohuk, Iraq). It was also commonly called nard. The species originally grown was L. stoechas.

    Lavender was one of the holy herbs used in the biblical Temple to prepare the holy essence, and nard (''nerd'' in Hebrew) is mentioned in the Song of Solomon (4,14)

    nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes, and all the finest spices.

    During Roman times, flowers were sold for 100 denarii per pound, which was about the same as a month''s wages for a farm laborer, or fifty haircuts from the local barber. Its late Latin name was lavandārius, from lavanda (things to be washed), from the verb lavāre (to wash). The Greeks discovered early on that lavender if crushed and treated correctly would release a relaxing fume when burned.

    In medieval times powdered lavender was used as a condiment.

    Taxonomic tableDifferent lavender cultivars grown at Snowshill, Cotswolds.

    This is based on the classification of Upson and Andrews, 2004.

    I. Subgenus Lavandula Upson & S. Andrews subgen. nov.

    i. Section Lavandula (3 species)
    • Lavandula angustifolia Mill.
    subsp. angustifolia from Catalonia and the Pyrenees. subsp. pyrenaica from southeast France and adjacent areas of Italy.
    • Lavandula latifolia Medik – native to central and eastern Spain, southern France, northern Italy.
    • Lavandula lanata Boiss. – native to southern Spain.
    • Lavandula × chaytorae Upson & S. Andrews nothosp. nov. (L. angustifolia subsp. angustifolia × L. lanata )
    • Lavandula × intermedia Emeric ex Loisel. (L. angustifolia subsp. angustifolia × L. latifolia )
    ii. Section Dentatae Suarez-Cerv. & Seoane-Camba (1 species)
    • Lavandula dentata L. from eastern Spain, northern Algeria and Morocco, southwestern Morocco.
    var. dentata (rosea, albiflora), candicans (persicina) iii. Section Stoechas Ging. (3 species)
    • Lavandula stoechas L.
    subsp. stoechas from mostly coastal regions of eastern Spain, southern France, western Italy, Greece, Mediterranean Turkey, Levantine coast, and most Mediterranean islands. subspp. luisieri native to coastal and inland Portugal and adjacent Spain.
    • Lavandula pedunculata Mill.(Cav.)
    subsp. pedunculata – Spain and Portugal. subsp. cariensis – from western Turkey. subsp. atlantica – from montane Morocco. subsp. lusitanica – southern Portugal and southwestern Spain. subsp. sampaiana – from Portugal and southwest Spain.
    • Lavandula viridis L''Her. – native to southwest Spain, southern Portugal, and possibly also to Madeira.
    Intersectional hybrids (Dentatae and Lavendula)
    • Lavandula × heterophylla Viv. (L. dentata × L. latifolia )
    • Lavandula × allardii
    • Lavandula × ginginsii Upson & S. Andrews nothosp. nov. (L. dentata × L. lanata )

    II. Subgenus Fabricia (Adams.) Upson & S. Andrews, comb.nov.

    iv. Section Pterostoechas Ging. (16 species)
    • Lavandula multifida L. – is native to a wide range including Morocco, southern Portugal and Spain, norther Algeria, Tunisia, Tripolitania, Calabria and Sicily, with isolated populations in the Nile valley.
    • Lavandula canariensis Mill., from the Canaries.
    subsp. palmensis – from La Palma. subsp. hierrensis – from El Hierro. subsp. canariensis – from Tenerife. subsp. canariae – from Gran Canaria. subsp. fuerteventurae – from Fuerteventura. subsp. gomerensis – from La Gomera. subsp. lancerottensis – from Lanzarote.
    • Lavandula minutolii Bolle – Canary Isles.
    subsp. minutolii subsp. tenuipinna
    • Lavandula bramwellii Upson & S. Andrews – from Gran Canaria.
    • Lavandula pinnata L. – from the Canaries and also Madeira.
    • Lavandula buchii Webb & Berthel. – Tenerife.
    • Lavandula rotundifolia Benth. – Cape Verde Islands.
    • Lavandula maroccana Murb. – Atlas mountains of Morocco.
    • Lavandula tenuisecta Coss. ex Ball – Atlas mountains in Morocco.
    • Lavandula rejdalii Upson & Jury – Morocco.
    • Lavandula mairei Humbert – Morocco.
    • Lavandula coronopifoliaPoir. – This has a wide distribution, from Cape Verde across North Africa, the northeast of tropical Africa, Arabia to eastern Iran.
    • Lavandula saharica Upson & Jury – southern Algeria and nearby regions.
    • Lavandula antineae Maire – central Sahara region.
    subsp. antinae subsp. marrana subsp. tibestica
    • Lavandula pubescens Decne. – from Egypt and Eritrea, Sinai, Israel and Palestine, Jordan, western Arabian peninsula to Yemen.
    • Lavandula citriodora A.G. Mill. – southwestern Arabian peninsula.
    • Lavandula × christiana Gattef. & Maire (L. pinnata × L. canariensis)
    v. Section Subnudae Chaytor (10 species)
    • Lavandula subnuda Benth. – from the mountains of Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
    • Lavandula macra Baker – southern Arabian peninsula and northern Somalia.
    • Lavandula dhofarensis A.G. Mill. – from Dhofar in southern Oman.
    subsp. dhofarensis subsp. ayunensis
    • Lavandula samhanensis Upson & S. Andrews sp. nov. – Dhofar, Oman.
    • Lavandula setifera T. Anderson – from coastal regions of Yemen and Somalia.
    • Lavandula qishnensis Upson & S. Andrews sp. nov. – southern Yemen.
    • Lavandula nimmoi Benth. – from Socotra.
    • Lavandula galgalloensis A.G. Mill. – northern Somalia.
    • Lavandula aristibracteata A.G. Mill. – northern Somalia.
    • Lavandula somaliensis Chaytor – northern Somalia.
    vi. Section Chaetostachys Benth. (2 species)
    • Lavandula bipinnata (Roth) Kuntze – from the Deccan peninsula and central north India.
    • Lavandula gibsonii J. Graham – Western Ghats, India.
    vii. Section Hasikenses Upson & S. Andrews, sect. nov. (2 species)
    • Lavandula hasikensis A.G. Mill. – Oman.
    • Lavandula sublepidota Rech. f. – Far, in southern Iran.

    III. Subgenus Sabaudia (Buscal. & Muschl.) Upson & S. Andrews, comb. et stat. nov.

    viii. Section Sabaudia (Buscal. & Muschl.) Upson & S. Andrews, comb. et stat. nov. (2 species)
    • Lavandula atriplicifolia Benth. – western Arabian peninsula, Egypt.
    • Lavandula erythraeae (Chiov.) Cufod. – from Eritrea.

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