|Binomial name||Lavandula officinalis|
Other Common Names:
The other common names for the herb lavender are Common Lavender, Garden Lavender, Spike Lavender Sweet Lavender and True Lavender.
Lavender is also called as Nardus by the Greeks, from Naarda, a city of Syria near the Euphrates, and many persons call the plant "Nard." It is also called as Spikenard by St. Mark, which means a thing of great value. In Pliny's time, blossoms of the Nardus sold for a hundred Roman denarii. This Lavender or Nardus was called Asarum by the Romans, because it was not used in garlands or chaplets. It was formerly believed that the asp, a dangerous kind of viper, made Lavender its habitual place of abode, so that the plant had to be approached with great caution.'
The lavender is a perennial herb. The lavender comes in many varieties, which also includes a dwarf variety of the plant. Lavender is a shrub which grows 2 to 3 feet high with green leaves and purple-blue flowers borne on long spikes. The gray-green leaves are opposite, sessile, downy, and lanceolate to oblong-linear and the leaf can range anywhere from three fourths of an inch to two inches in length.
The lavender is a herb originally found only in France and the western Mediterranean region. But now it is cultivated around the world mainly for its aromatic volatile oil. The lavender is also a popular garden plant and is a common sight in gardens in Italy, England and Norway. It is also now being grown as a perfume plant in Australia..
Lavender is indigenous to the mountainous regions and cultivated in gardens. The plant grows best at sites with a good exposure to sunlight; in general the lavender prefers dry and sunny places for optimal growth. The pH range tolerated by the plant is from a slightly acidic 6.4 to an alkaline 8.2 pH.The shrubby herbal plant called the lavender is a common sight in the South Europe. Thus it grows best on light soil - sand or gravel - in a dry, open and sunny position.
The best way to propagate the lavender is by the process of root divisions. Growth is best achieved on dry, sandy and well drained soils which are in the alkaline range. The lavender plant requires good exposure to sunlight for optimal growth. The seeds of the lavender can be sown indoors approximately ten to twelve weeks before the last spring frost dates of the year. The rate of germination of the seeds can be boosted by chilling the seeds in a refrigerator for a few weeks before the planting is carried out.
Each of the seeds must not be planted deeper than six mm or one fourth of an inch in the seed bed. Germination typically occurs in fourteen to twenty right days time. The growing seedlings can be transplanted outside after all the danger of late frost in the year has passed. Lavender that has been propagated using seeds tends to be variable in size and other characteristics, the distinctive characteristics of the cultivar from which the seed is taken may not be re-produced in the seedlings or progeny. When planting at a site, the optimal growth of each seedling is ensured by spacing the plants thirty to ninety cm - one to three feet - from each other. This spacing of the growing plants ensures optimal growth rates and successful development in the seedlings. The plants grown in pots can be encouraged to flower at a proper time by the addition of a liquid fertilizer to the soil bed at regular intervals. The floral spike of more compact plants can be nipped off just before the bloom during the first year to ensure proper growth of the plants.
Harvesting should be carried out rapidly - the cutting managed in a week if possible - so long as the weather is dry and there is no wind, the morning and evening of a fine day being particularly favourable to the flower gathering, on account of the fact that a certain amount of the ester portion of the oil is dissipated by a hot sun, as is easily seen by the fact that the Lavender plantations, and all fields of aromatic plants, are most highly perfumed about mid-day.
The lavender is generally in bloom in the months of July to September.
Pests and Diseases
The most common disease problem with lavender is wilt. Vascular wilts are very destructive diseases with typical symptoms characterized by rapid wilting, browning, and dying of leaves and succulent shoots of plants followed by the death of the plant. The lavender is vulnerable to spittle bugs and the caterpillars of many Lepidoptera species. The lavender is also vulnerable to fungal diseases such as the leaf spot disease. Root rot disease also tends to affect lavender plants that are growing in overly moist soils or water logged areas. They are also affected by Cuckoo spit, Greymould, Honey fungus and New beetle pest. There is a new threat to lavenders and this comes in the form of a shiny, metallic beetle called Rosemary beetle, that attacks several aromatic herbs including lavender.
Mostly the flowers and the leaves of the lavender are used for its medicinal and commercial applications.
• Lavender is used for flatulence, migraine headache, fainting, and dizziness.
• It also has antiseptic properties and is useful against putrefactive bacteria in the intestines.
• A decoction of the leaves is a useful remedy for stomach problem, nausea and vomiting and also toothache.
• It provokes women's courses, and expels the dead child and afterbirth.
• The oil has a sedative action on the heart and will lower blood pressure.
• A small amount added to bland oils makes a useful application in skin diseases, such as eczema and psoriasis, and a rub for rheumatic conditions.
• The oil is restorative and tonic against faintness, palpitations of a nervous sort, weak giddiness, spasms and colic.
• A few drops of the essence of Lavender in a hot footbath have a marked influence in relieving fatigue.
• Lavender oil is found effective in paralyzed limbs, sprains and stiff joints.
• A distilled water made from Lavender has been used as a gargle and for hoarseness and loss of voice.
• The oil is successfully used in the treatment of sores, varicose ulcers, burns and scalds.
• In France, it is a regular thing for most households to keep a bottle of Essence of Lavender as a domestic remedy against bruises, bites and trivial aches and pains, both external and internal.
• Lavender oil is also used in veterinary practice, being very efficacious in killing lice and other parasites on animals.
• The herbal remedy made from the herb is effective in the treatment of prolonged anxiety, chronic and persistent nervousness, as well as in alleviating the physical symptoms induced by excessive stress such as tension headaches, persistent migraine, cardiac palpitations and sleep disorders like insomnia.
• It is also very effective in helping relieve abdominal distension, in relieving persistent flatulence, spells of nausea as well as indigestion.
• The lavender herbal remedy boosts a flagging appetite, enabling the person to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from the diet.
• The volatile oils in the lavender are a powerful antiseptic, and have been shown to have a good effect against pathogenic bacteria such as the strains responsible for diseases like diphtheria and typhoid.
• The herbal remedy made from the lavender is also very useful in alleviating depression and related mental disorders.
• Chronic headaches can be eased by massaging or rubbing the forehead and temples with a few drops of the volatile oil.
• Lavenders aromatic properties make it useful in pharmacy to add to lotions and creams.
• Lavender water made from the essential oil is used in therapeutic baths to reduce nervous excitement and as a perfume.
• Lavender is widely sold in the fresh state as 'bunched Lavender,' and as 'dried Lavender,' the flowers are used powdered, for sachet making and also for pot-pourri.
• Lavender was used in earlier days as a condiment and for flavouring dishes 'to comfort the stomach.
• The lavender is also used in cuisines, the dried parts of the lavender plant including the leaves, the floral buds, and the flowers are used as a seasoning for many kinds of meat and vegetable dishes in Europe.
• The freshly chopped leaves and the diced flowering tips can be added to dressings, vegetable salads, to wines, and to vinegars of all kinds.
Dishes used as desert including puddings, ice cream, jellies and fruit, particularly berries can be flavored with the blossoms of the lavender.
• The term "gourmet's delight" is deserved by the honey derived from lavender flowers which is used as a sweetening agent.
• The oil extract of the lavender is commercially employed as a flavor for food items like candy, all kinds of baked goods, to flavor chewing gum, in various gelatins, in puddings, and to enhance the taste of various beverages and drinks.
• The beautiful and graceful appearing lavender spikes are a good addition to fresh floral arrangements sold in floral shops.
Parkinson in his Garden of Pleasure says the L. spica 'is often called the Lesser Lavender or minor, and is called by some, Nardus Italica.' Some believe that this is the Spikenard mentioned in the Bible.
Lavender was familiar to Shakespeare, but was probably not a common plant in his time, for though it is mentioned by Spencer as 'The Lavender still gray' and by Gerard as growing in his garden, it is not mentioned by Bacon in his list of sweet-smelling plants. Lavender was one of the old street cries, and white lavender is said to have grown in the garden of Queen Henrietta Maria.
Salmon in his Herbal (1710) says that it is good also against the bitings of serpents, mad-dogs and other venomous creature, being given inwardly and applied poultice-wise to the parts wounded. The spirituous tincture of the dried leaves or seeds, if prudently given, cures hysterick fits though vehement and of long standing.'
It is used to decorate the floors of churches and houses on festive occasions, or to make bonfires on St. Johns Day, when evil spirits are supposed to be abroad. Growing lavender in your garden is said to bring good luck and has long believed to be a fairy favorite due to its incredible scent. Traditionally fragrant bundles of lavender were placed in the hands of women during childbirth to bring courage and strength. It is believed that lavender is used by many people for the purpose of bringing good luck in love affairs. According to one author, to win the love you desire, you should wear a sachet filled with lavender flower.
Among married couples lavender flowers are combined with Rose Buds and placed beneath the bed to aid in satisfying conjugal relations. And some folks tell us that they make the flowers into a tea and add it to floor wash to bring Peace to the Home and Faithfulness to the Marriage. The plant is so powerful that, if when depressed, one gazes upon the plant all sorrow will depart and a joyous will settle upon the observer. The odour of Lavender is conducive to long life, and should be smelled as often as possible. Lavender is also used in healing mixtures, carried to see ghosts and worn to protect against the evil eye.