For thousands of years, lavender has been one of the most important and valuable medicinal and aromatic plants, although the plant is now rarely found, both in cultivation and in the wild. Its place has been taken by the numerous cultivars and hybrids, which, however, can not be used in the kitchen or in medicine. Therefore, in this article you will find information on how to recognize the true lavender.
True lavender versus lavandin
The biggest competition to true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is from the hybrid lavandin, a cross between true and tall spirea lavender (Lavandula latifolia). This hybridized lavender is also the one that is grown in the majority in the endless lavender fields of Provence and Tuscany. In the garden as well as in the wild – where the lavandin does not run wild – you can distinguish the two species mainly by their height as well as their leaves. The following table gives them an overview.
|Growth habit||Small shrub||Small shrub|
|Height of growth||60 – 100 cm||up to 50 cm|
|Leaves||narrow lanceolate, hairy||elongated, lanceolate|
|Blade length||2 to 5 cm||4 to 6 cm|
|Leaf color||evergreen, underside silvery-white||gray-green|
|Flowering||from June / July||from June / July|
|Inflorescence height||10 – 15 cm||10 – 20 cm|
When buying pay attention to additives such as “fine” or “extra”.
If you want to buy lavender oil, pay attention to the additions “fine” or “extra” – only then you actually acquire the oil of the real lavender. Since the yield of pure lavender oil is very meager, it fetches correspondingly expensive prices and is often replaced by the inferior oil of lavandin or even by artificial flavorings. These may smell similarly beguiling, but they do not have the same medicinal or culinary effect.
The characteristic shape of the flowers of the crested lavender, which is often cultivated in pots, can be easily distinguished from the true lavender. The flower spike of the crested lavender, as the name suggests, has a distinct “crested” shape. In addition, the plant remains much smaller than other types of lavender.