Lavender – Purple Power


Lavender is almost a first aid box on its own! I am sure you know about its sleep-inducing properties and how it helps with tension and anxiety, but there is so much more in this plant.  Use it for skin problems, rashes, cuts, bruises and burns; as a digestive aid and for upset tummies; muscular aches and pains and even as a cough suppressant. And that is just the medicinal properties!

If rosemary is for the spirit, then lavender is for the soul…”Anonymous”.

There are a few lavender species, and hundreds of hybrids, so it can become quite confusing.  Like most plants, if you go with the botanical name you should get the right one.

English LavenderEnglish Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia

This is the lavender you need if you want to make medicinal or culinary products.  It has the strongest aroma, and is the lavender that is used in lavender essential oil  The plant is large, growing up to 1m high and if you let it, it will soon grow to 1m in width  It has to be pruned back every year or it will spread its woody branches out and look even more untidy.

There are plenty of English Lavenders available, the most popular in South Africa being Margaret Roberts or Hidcote.  The flowers are borne on long spikes, and have at least one break between the flower clusters.

Medicinal uses: Mild sedative, calms nerves, digestive aid, eases flatulence, painkiller, helps prevent dizziness and recovery from fainting, antiseptic, throat infections, headache relief, burns, clears sinuses, cough suppressant, arthritic aches and pains.

Culinary uses: Flavour baked goods, jams, meat tenderiser, add to savoury dishes

Home & Garden uses: Insect repellent, scent for linen and clothing, companion plant

Body Care: Cleansing, speeds cell replacement, antiseptic


French lavenderFrench Lavender – Lavandula dentata

I think this is the loveliest looking lavender. It has big chunky flowers and a compact growth.  The leaves are grey and have a indentation around the edge. (hence the name ‘dentata’) It grows up to 75cm tall. French lavender has a lovely aroma and is a great garden plant and to use in lavender bags, tussie mussies, pot pouri or in a vase.

It is not as effective as English Lavender, but can be used for the following

Medicinal uses: Anti-septic, diuretic, calming, clears sinuses, digestive aid, headaches

Home & Garden: Decorative, companion plant, fragrance, insect repellent

Body Care: Cleansing, antiseptic,


Spanish lavenderSpanish Lavender – Lavandula stoeches

L.stoeches is confusing, as it is also known as French or Italian Lavender in USA and parts of Europe.  Recognizable by the long bracts at the top of the flower head and by the huge range of  flower colours, such as whites, green, black and multi coloured.  It has a much shorter flowering season than other lavenders, although there are now some hybrids which flower for longer.  The plant is smaller than L.angustifolia and L. dentata and it grows to about 45cm high. It is happy in a pot if it gets enough sunlight

Medicinal uses:  Anxiety, calming, headaches

Home & Garden uses: Fragrance, insect repellent

That is a quick introduction into a well known and well loved herb.  If you are making your own herbal medicines it is definitely a herb for you to grow.







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