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Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia Mill.)

Synonyms

botanicalLavandula officinalis
pharmaceuticalFlores Lavandulae
AlbanianLivandë e vërtetë, Lavanda
Arabicخزامى, لافند
خُزَامَى, لَافَنْد
Khuzama, Lafand
ArmenianՀուսամ
Hoosam, Husam
AzeriLavanda
Лаванда
BasqueIzpiliku; Belatxeta (Lavandula spicata); Esplikamin (Lavandula stoechas)
BelarusianЛаванда
Lavanda
BretonLavand
BulgarianЛавандула
Lavandula
CatalanEspígol
Chinese
(Cantonese)
薰衣草 [fàn yì chóu]
Fan yi chou
Chinese
(Mandarin)
薰衣草 [xūn yī cǎo]
Xun yi cao
CroatianLjekovita lavanda
CzechLevandule, Levandule lekařská
DanishLavendel, Hunlavendel
DutchLavendel, Spijklavendel
EsperantoLavendo
EstonianTähklavendel
Farsiاسطوخودوس
Ustukhudus
FinnishTupsupäälaventeli
FrenchLavande
GaelicLus na tuise
GalicianLavanda
Georgianლავანდა
Lavanda
GermanLavendel
GreekΛεβάντα
Levanta
Greek (Old)Στοιχάς
Stoichas (Lavandula stoechas)
Hebrewלבנדר, אזוביון
לָבֶנְדֶּר, אֵזוֹבִיוֹן
Lavender, Ezovion, Azovion
HungarianLevendula
IcelandicLofnarblóm
IrishLabhandar
ItalianLavanda
Japaneseラベンダー, ラヴェンダー
Rabenda, Ravenda
KazakhЛаванда
Lavanda
Korean라반딘, 라벤더
Rabandin, Rabendeo, Rabendo
LatvianŠaurlapu lavanda, Lavandīna
LithuanianTikroji levanda
MacedonianЛаванда, Лавандула
Lavanda, Lavandula
MalteseLavandra
MongolianЛаванда
Lavanda
Nepaliलव्हेंडर
Lavhendar
NorwegianLavendel
PolishLawenda wąskolistna
PortugueseAlfazema; Rosmaninho (Lavandula stoechas)
ProvençalLavando
RomanianLevănțicăLevănţică
RussianЛаванда
Lavanda
SerbianЛаванда
Lavanda
Sinhalaලැවැන්ඩර්
Levendar
SlovakLevanduľa úzkolistá, Levanduľa
SlovenianLavendin, Sivka
SpanishLavanda, Alhucema, Espliego
SwedishLavendel
Tamilலெவன்டர்
Levandar
Thaiลาเวนเดอร์
Lawendeor
TurkishLavânta çiçeği
UkrainianЛаванда
Lavanda
Urduخوشبودار
Khushbodar
VietnameseHoa oải hương
Hoa oai huong
WelshLafant
Yiddishלאַװענדל, אַװענדל
Lavendl, Avendl
Lavandula angustifolia: Lavender inflorescence
Lavender flowers
Lavandula angustifolia: Lavender leaves
Lavender leaves
Lavandula angustifolia: Dried lavender flowers
Dried lavender flowers
Used plant part

Flowers (in smaller degree, leaves).

Plant family

Lamiaceae (mint family).

Sensory quality

Very strong, perfumed odor. The bitter taste is more pronounced for the leaves than the flowers; on the bitter constituents characteristic of the family, see hyssop, and on bitter taste in general see zedoary.

Main constituents

The essential oil (1 to 3%) is rich in linalyl acetate (30 to 55%) and linalool (20 to 35%). Further aroma com­ponents are β-ocimene, cineol, camphor and caryo­phyllene epoxide; even coumarin deriva­tives (coumarin, dihydro­coumarin, herniarin, umbelli­ferone) were found.

Origin

Western Mediterranean. Although a common ornamental in many parts of Europe, France is the only Mediterranean country where lavender is grown commercially for extraction of lavender oil used in perfumery.

There is also lavender oil production in Hungary and South Eastern Europe, e. g., Bulgaria.

Lavandula multifida: Fernleaf lavender
L. multifida (fern-leaved lavender)
Lavandula stoechas: Spanish Lavender
Spanish lavender, L. stoechas
Etymology

The source of the name lavender is commonly assumed to be Latin lavare wash, referring to lavender’s use in bath essences. Yet against this can be argued that no ancient source men­tions such an appli­cation of lavender.

Most European and even some non-European languages have very similar names for lavender, e. g., German Lavendel, Spanish lavanda, Romanian levănțicălevănţică, Latvian lavandīna, Slovenian lavendin, Slovak levanduľa, Finnish laventeli, Bulgarian lavan­dula [лаван­дула], Greek le­vanta [λε­βάντα], Turkish lavânta çiçeği and Hebrew laven­der [לבנדר]

The name of lavender in Farsi, ustukhuduz [اسطوخودوس], is adapted from the Classical Greek name of the related Spanish Lavender (L. stoechas) which was known as stoichas [στοιχάς]. That name derives from the desig­nation Stoichades nesoi [Στοιχάδες νῆσοι] Stochadic Islands for a group of islands off the French Riviera coast. The three small islands are arranged in a straight line, which gave them their ancient name: Greek stoichos [στοῖχος] line, row, order, from the Proto-Indo–European root steigʰ stride. The area is still famous for its wild lavender; a nearby commune is known as Le Lavandou.

Arabic al-khuzaama [الخزامى] and Armenian husam [հուսամ] are probably shortened versons of the Farsi name. The Arabic word has been transferred to the Iberian peninsula, where it emerges as alfazema and (rarer) Spanish alhucema. The shift from Arabic خ or ح to Portuguese f is often observed in Arabic loanwords; it might indicate a transfer route via Spanish (that shifts Common Romance f- into h-), followed by hypercorrection in Portuguese.

See also caper about other Arabic loanwords in Iberic languages.

The Greek term stoichas also ended up in another Middle Eastern language: In a Latin–Coptic dictionary from 1840, I found the entry stoi [ⲥⲧⲟⲓ], which was glossed as hyssop. Maybe this is a botanical error, but that name reappeared in the name of mint (asinstoi [ⲁⲥⲓⲛⲥⲧⲟⲓ]), so it is possible that it had acquired a wider meaning in Coptic, encompassing several Lamiaceae herbs.

Selected Links

Ilkas und Ullis Kochecke: Lavendel (rezkonv.de via archive.org) A Pinch of Lavender (www.apinchof.com) San Marcos Growers: Lavender Saskatchewan Herb and Spice Association: Lavender chemikalienlexikon.de: Linalool chemikalienlexikon.de: Linalylacetat Crop and Food Research: Lavender (crop.cri.nz via archive.org) Alles over Lavendel (natuurlijkerwijs.com) Herbs by Linda Gilbert: Lavender Rezept von goccus.com: Herbes de Provence Rezept von goccus.com: Lavendel-Eis mit Rotweingelee Recipe: Ratatouille (www.beyond.fr) Recipe: Ratatouille (www.cliffordawright.com) Recipe: Ratatouille (www.crankycranky.com) Recipe: Herbes de Provence (recipecottage.com) Recipe: Herbes de Provence (rebeccasgarden.com)


Lavandula angustifolia: Lavender (flower cluster)
Lavender
Lavandula angustifolia: Lavender flowers
Lavender flowers
Lavandula angustifolia: Flowering lavender plants
Lavender plants with flower
Lavandula angustifolia: Lavender flower buds
Lavender shortly before bloom
Lavandula angustifolia: Lavender flower cluster
Lavender inflorescence
Lavender is not a common spice, but it is character­istic of the cuisine of Provence, a region in Southern France. Provençal cookery makes much use of fresh herbs (which grow to un­matched flavour in the Medi­terranean climate), of garlic (see also tarragon for aïoli, the famous garlic mayonnaise) and even of the most exclusive spice, saffron, which is, among others, used for the fish soup bouillabaisse. Plenty of fresh fish and sun-ripened vegetables are the basis of Provençal food.

Herbes de Provence is a spice mixture usually containing several different herbs (chervil, tarragon, savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, lavender and frequently also fennel). This mixture is used for many dishes of the region, especially fish, but also meat and veg­eta­bles; a fa­mous ex­ample is ratatouille, a flavourful vegetable stew made of zuc­chini (or squash), toma­toes and au­ber­gines.

Outside of France, lavender is an uncommon spice; it should be used with care and only for robust dishes, since its flavour tends to dominate, imparting a perfumed, slightly bitter and dis­agreeable odour to the food if overdosed. Cook­books suggest lavender for meat (mutton with its strong flavour is an obvious choice) and fish; I like the com­bination of lavender (and garlic) with cheese (e. g., Italian gorgonzola or French roquefort).

Lavender can also be used as an unusual and somewhat extravagant flavouring for sweets. There is constant rumour of delicious lavender ice cream, but I had never the opportunity to taste one (see vanilla). Moreover, lavender can be used to lend a unique character to home-made jams and fruit jellies. Lavender flowers can be candied and taste particularly delicious.



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