By Brittany Arthur
A herbaceous perennial that is one of the 39 known species of flowering plants in the mint family. Lavender is commonly used as an ornamental plant for landscape use as well as for culinary purposes and essential oil. Lavandula blooms blue, violet, or lilac flowers and varies in leaf shape across the genus. The vivid colors of the plant are what makes it a popular ornamental in gardens. Lavender produces a distinct smell from its flowering stalks and oil extract and is commonly used in aromatherapy as it is believed to calm, alleviate anxiety and sleep disturbances. In a culinary setting, the perennial is used as a condiment, sweetener or garnish. It grants a floral and slightly sweet flavor to its dishes. It is suggested that lavender’s name derived from the Latin word “livere” which means “blueish.”
Lavandula is native to the Old World and can be found across most of Europe, Asia, eastern Africa and the Mediterranean. The plant favors dry, sand or gravel type soils while being exposed to full sun. The most common technique of harvesting lavender is gathering a handful and using a knife to cut a few inches above the woody growth.