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Lavandula (common name lavender) is a genus of 47 known species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. It is native to the Old World and is found from Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, Europe across to northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean, southwest Asia to southeast India. Many members of the genus are cultivated extensively in temperate climates as ornamental plants for garden and landscape use, for use as culinary herbs, and also commercially for the extraction of essential oils. The most widely cultivated species, Lavandula angustifolia, is often referred to as lavender, and there is a color named for the shade of the flowers of this species.
The genus includes annual or short-lived herbaceous perennial plants, and shrub-like perennials, subshrubs or small shrubs.
Leaf shape is diverse across the genus. They are simple in some commonly cultivated species; in other species they are pinnately toothed, or pinnate, sometimes multiple pinnate and dissected. In most species the leaves are covered in fine hairs or indumentum, which normally contain the essential oils.
Flowers are borne in whorls, held on spikes rising above the foliage, the spikes being branched in some species. Some species produce coloured bracts at the apices. The flowers may be blue, violet or lilac in the wild species, occasionally blackish purple or yellowish. The calyx is tubular. The corolla is also tubular, usually with five lobes (the upper lip often cleft, and the lower lip has two clefts).
Commercially, the plant is grown mainly for the production of essential oil of lavender. This has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, and can be used as a natural mosquito repellent.These extracts are also used as fragrances for bath products.
English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) yields an essential oil with sweet overtones, and can be used in balms, salves, perfumes, cosmetics, and topical applications. Lavandin, Lavandula × intermedia (also known as Dutch lavender), yields a similar essential oil, but with higher levels of terpenes including camphor, which add a sharper overtone to the fragrance.
The lavandins Lavandula × intermedia are a class of hybrids of L. angustifolia and L. latifolia. The lavandins are widely cultivated for commercial use, since their flowers tend to be bigger than those of English lavender and the plants tend to be easier to harvest, but lavandin oil is regarded by some to be of a lower quality than that of English lavender, with a perfume less sweet.
Lavender infused cupcakes
Lavender is grown as a condiment and used in salads and dressings. The flowers yield abundant nectar, from which bees make a high-quality honey. Monofloral honey is produced primarily around the Mediterranean, and is marketed worldwide as a premium product. Flowers can be candied and are sometimes used as cake decorations. It is also used to make “lavender sugar.”
Lavender lends a floral and slightly sweet flavour to most dishes, and is sometimes paired with sheep’s-milk and goat’s-milk cheeses. Lavender flowers are occasionally blended with black, green, or herbal teas. Lavender flavours baked goods and desserts, pairing especially well with chocolate. In the United States, both lavender syrup and dried lavender buds are used to make lavender scones and marshmallows.
Though it has many other traditional uses in southern France, lavender is not used in traditional southern French cooking. It does not appear at all in the best-known compendium of Provençal cooking, J.-B. Reboul’s Cuisinière Provençale. In the 1970s, a blend of herbs called herbes de Provence which usually includes lavender was invented by spice wholesalers, and lavender has more recently become popular in cooking.
For most cooking applications the dried buds, which are also referred to as flowers, are used. Only the buds contain the essential oil of lavender, from which the characteristic scent and flavour of lavender are derived. Lavender greens have a more subtle flavour that is compared to rosemary. The greens are used similarly to rosemary or combined with rosemary to flavour meat and vegetables in savory dishes. They can also be used to make a tea that is milder than teas made with the flowers.
Bibliographic details for “Lavandula”
Page name: Lavandula
Author: Wikipedia contributors
Publisher: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
Date of last revision: 27 March 2017 11:41 UTC
Date retrieved: 26 April 2017 20:03 UTC
Permanent link: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lavandula&oldid=772456913
Primary contributors: Revision history statistics
Page Version ID: 772456913