Lavender

From Academic Kids

For the color shade, see Lavender (color)
Lavender
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Lavender02.jpg



Lavender flowers
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Magnoliopsida
Order:Lamiales
Family:Lamiaceae
Genus:Lavandula

The lavenders Lavandula are a genus of about 25-30 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native from the Mediterranean region south to tropical Africa and east to India. The genus includes annuals, herbaceous plants, subshrubs, and small shrubs. The native range extends across the Canary Islands, North and East Africa, south Europe and the Mediterranean, Arabia, and India. Because the cultivated forms are planted in gardens world-wide, they are occasionally found growing wild, as garden escapes, well beyond their natural range.

Cultivation and uses

The commonest species in cultivation is the English Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia (formerly L. officinalis). A wide range of cultivars can be found. Other commonly grown ornamental species are L. stoechas, L. dentata, L. multifida.

Lavender flowers
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Lavender flowers

Lavenders are much grown in gardens. Flower spikes are used for dried flower arrangements. The fragrant, pale purple flowers and flower buds are used in potpourris. Dried and sealed in pouches, they are placed among stored items of clothing to give a fresh fragrance and as a deterrent to moths. The plant is also grown commercially for extraction of lavender oil from the flowers. This oil is used as an antiseptic and for aromatherapy.

Lavender flowers yield abundant nectar which yields a high quality honey for beekeepers. Lavender varietal honey is produced primarily in the nations around the Mediterranean, and marketed worldwide as a premium product. Lavender blossoms can be candied and are used as cake decoration. Lavender is also used as a herb, either alone or as an ingredient of herbes de Provence.

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Topped lavender

History

This aromatic herb was known by the ancient Greeks as Nardus, taken from Naarda a city of Syria; it was also commonly called Nard.

During Roman times the blossoms were sold for 100 denarii per pound, which was about the same as months wage for a farm labourer or 50 haircuts for the local barber. The Romans used lavender in their bath water and along with many other herbs, they indroduced it to Britain.

During the times of the plague the glove makers of Grasse would scent their leathers with lavender oil and many seemed to stay plague free. This story could have some validity as the plague was transmitted by fleas and lavender is known to repel them.

Herbal Remedies

Flower of cultivated lavender; Lavandula stoechas or Spanish lavender
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Flower of cultivated lavender; Lavandula stoechas or Spanish lavender

An infusion of lavender can be used to soothe and heal insect bites. Bunches of lavender are also said to ward off insects. If applies to temples, lavender oil soothes headaches. Lavender is frequently used as an aide to sleep. Seeds and flowers of the plant are added to sleep billows, and three flowerheads added to a cup of boiling water can be used to soothe and relax before bedtime. Lavender essential oil heals acne, dilute 1:10 with water, rosewater, or witch hazel. Lavender Oil (or extract of Lavender) is also used in the treatment of skin burns.

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