Lavandula angustifolia (lavender or English lavender, though not native to England; also common lavender, true lavender, narrow-leaved lavender), formerly L. officinalis, is a flowering plant in the family Lamiaceae, native to the western Mediterranean, primarily the Pyrenees and other mountains in northern Spain.
Flower spike before the petals emerge
Calyx (purple) and flower bracts (light brown)
Calyx and corolla
Calyx and corolla
It is a strongly aromatic shrub growing as high as 1 to 2 metres (3.3 to 6.6 ft) tall. The leaves are evergreen, 2–6 centimetres (0.79–2.36 in) long, and 4–6 millimetres (0.16–0.24 in) broad. The flowers are pinkish-purple (lavender-coloured), produced on spikes 2–8 cm (0.79–3.15 in) long at the top of slender, leafless stems 10–30 cm (3.9–11.8 in) long.
The species name angustifolia is Latin for “narrow leaf”. Previously, it was known as Lavandula officinalis, referring to its medicinal properties.
English lavender is commonly grown as an ornamental plant. It is popular for its colourful flowers, its fragrance and its ability to survive with low water consumption. It does not grow well in continuously damp soil. It is fairly tolerant of low temperatures, generally considered hardy to USDA zone 5. It tolerates acid soils but favours neutral to alkaline soils. In some conditions it can be short-lived.
The following cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit:-
‘Alba’ (large white)
Compacta, Folgate, Dwarf Blue, Dwarf White, Hidcote Pink, Hidcote Superior, Munstead, Nana Atropurpurea, Nana Rosea, Sarah, Summerland Surpreme, Lady Lavender
‘Hidcote Superior’, a compact evergreen shrub 16”x18” with fragrant gray-green foliage and deep violet-blue flowers in summer, prefers full sun, well drained soil, low water, hardy to -20°F, western Mediterranean species
‘Munstead’ (syn. Dwarf Munstead, Munstead Blue and Munstead Variety) L. angustifolia variety, 12″ tall, having pink-purple to lavender-blue inflorescences that are slightly fragrant, named after Munstead Wood in Surrey, which was the home of Gertrude Jekyll
‘Sarah’, grows to 6-24 in, the flowers are petite, as is the plant, used as a short edging, or as a very fragrant addition to the window box, dark violet flowers
‘Lady Lavendar’, grows to 18 in, fragrant, gray-green foliage and lavender-blue flowers in summer, prefers full sun, well-drained soil, low water, hardy to –20°F
Bowles Early, Hidcote Variety, Loddon Blue, Martha Roderick, Jean Davis, Twickle Purple, Pink Perfume
‘Hidcote’ (syn. Hidcote Variety, Hidcote Blue, Hidcote Purple) L. angustifolia variety. 15″ to 20″ tall, with silver-gray foliage and deep violet-blue inflorescences, named after Hidcote Manor in England as it was cultivated there by Major Lawrence Johnston
‘Jean Davis’ 20-24″ tall, up to 3 ft. A pale pink flowered lavender with exceptionally fruity taste
‘Pink Perfume’ 24″ x 18″
Alba, Blackhouse Purple, Biostos, Bridestowe, Graves, Gray Lady, Gwendolyn Anley, Hidcote Giant, Irene Doyle, Mailette, Middachten
‘Hidcote Giant’. A Lavandula x intermedias lavandin. Very vigorous grower (36 – 40 inches) with a lovely strong fragrance. This has large deep Lavender-purple flowers on very long 24 inch stems.
‘Vera’ 30-36″. Thought to be the original species lavender, harvested for its oil
Dried Lavandulae flos as used in herbal teas
The flowers and leaves are used as an herbal medicine, either in the form of lavender oil or as an herbal tea. The flowers are also used as a culinary herb, most often as part of the French herb blend called herbes de Provence.
Lavender essential oil, when diluted with a carrier oil, is commonly used as a relaxant with massage therapy. Products for home use, such as lotions, eye pillows (including lavender flowers or the essential oil itself) and bath oils, etc., are also used. Both the petals and the oil are the most popular ingredients in handmade soap.
Dried lavender flowers and lavender essential oil are also used as a prevention against clothing moths, which do not like their scent.
Lavandula angustifolia is included in the Tasmanian Fire Service’s list of low flammability plants, indicating that it is suitable for growing within a building protection zone.
Lavandula angustifolia subsp. angustifolia
Lavandula angustifolia subsp. pyrenaica
Lavandula hybrids are referred to as lavandins. Hybrids between L. angustifolia and L. latifolia are called Lavandula x intermedia. They bloom later than the ordinary English lavenders.
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