Lavandula angustifolia, commonly called English lavender, has been a mainstay of herb gardens for many years. Despite its common name, it is not in fact native to England, but comes primarily from the Mediterranean region. (Spain, France, Italy, Croatia etc.). It is a strongly aromatic shrub growing as high as 1 to 2 metres tall. The leaves are evergreen, 2–6 centimetres long, and 4–6 millimetres broad. The flowers are pinkish-purple, produced on spikes 2–8 cm long at the top of slender, leafless stems 10–30 cm long. Lavender is drought-tolerant and can thrive in high temperatures.
The species name angustifolia is Latin for “narrow leaf”. It has been used as an herb for over 2,500 years. The ancient Phoenicians and Egyptians used lavender for perfume and for mummification. The aromatic lavender flower has natural antiseptic and astringent properties that folk healers recognized centuries ago.
The most important health benefits of lavender include its ability to relieve stress, improve mood, promote restful sleep, lower skin irritation, prevent infections, reduce inflammation, and soothe stomach bloating. The scent of lavender does not reduce pain but it does mitigate stress and anxiety.
DID YOU KNOW:
- Lavandula angustifolia is commercially planted for harvesting its oils for use in perfumes
- Lavender flowers and foliage are also popular additions to sachets and potpourris
- Lavender is a perennial in the mint family.