What we call lavender is actually a genus of 39 species of flowering plants from the mint family. Originally found in Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Asia, and India, lavender can now be found throughout the world in its different forms as it easily cross-pollinates and can quickly escape from wherever it is planted. The flowers are an easily distinguishable blue or purple, grown in whorls, and sit atop a tubular calyx. Lavender grows best in dry, sandy soil and loves full sun.
Lavender yields a high amount of nectar; the honey made from lavender nectar by bees is considered to be very high-quality and is usually sold at a premium. The essential oils of lavender are used in many culinary infusions, including sugars and syrups. The dried buds are also used in a culinary regard with baked goods, as an ingredient in tea, and in flower arrangements and potpourris. The overall scent and taste of lavender is relaxing and fresh.
Lavender essential oil is used to make many different balms, perfumes, cosmetics, and lotions. As lavender is a natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, it is used topically for bug bites, burns, rashes, acne, and other skin ailments. Studies show that lavender has anxiolytic properties, demonstrating its ability as a natural sleep aid and anti-anxiety herbal medication. However, lavender is also known to be an allergen for some people and it is usually recommended to avoid lavender use if pregnant.
Common Names: Lavender
Latin Names: Lavandula
Benefits: Anti-anxiety, sleep aid, relaxant, anti-inflammatory
Side Effects: Allergen, avoid while pregnant
Fun Fact: Lavender was commonly used to scent Roman baths and used because of its calming effects on the skin