Lavender vs Lavandin – What is the difference ?

True Lavender (L x angustifolia)

True Lavender (L x angustifolia)

The Lavender Fields of Provence

Lavandin (L x intermedia)

There are actually 39 different varieties of Lavender.  Lavender has always grown wild in Provence, and maybe you’ve been lucky to discover the wondrous sensory experience that are the lavender fields in bloom. Cultivation has been around even in ancient times, and was one of the holy herbs used in biblical times to prepare holy essence.  During the Roman period, the price for one pound of lavender equaled a full month’s farmers wages.  But can you tell the difference between Lavender vs Lavandin ?

There are many differences between Lavender vs Lavandin other than the visual aspect which you can clearly see in the above photos. The chemical makeups of the two varieties are also quite different, and thus, each is useful in different ways.

True Lavender (L x angustifolia)

  • Small barrel-shaped flower cluster on shorter stems
  • Requires higher elevations and is more difficult to grow
  • Reproduced easily by seed
  • Less productive (1 acre true lavender = 10 liters essential oil)
  • More expensive to purchase
  • Has a sweeter more subtle and flowery scent that is well appreciated
  • Used medicinally and for aroma therapy
  • Prized by perfume makers everywhere for its delicate fragrance
  • Has grown wild in Provence for centuries

Lavandin (Lx intermedia)

  • Long floral spikes on stems protruding from large round clumps
  • A 1950’s hybrid cross between True Lavender (Lx angustifolia) and Spike Lavender (Lx spica >  rarely found in France and has a  eucalyptus-like aroma).
  • More productive (1 acre Lavandin = 50 liters essential oil)
  • Easier to grow as more robust, although sterile and reproduced only by cuttings
  • Less expensive to purchase
  • More intense but sharper scent
  • Stronger antiseptic properties, but cannot be used on burns
  • Used to scent household products
  • Typically used in herbal crafts and lavender sachets.

Keeping all this in mind, it’s important to know what you are purchasing to make sure it fits your intended purpose.  It’s not always easy to make the right selection, so here are some tips to consider.

Five lavender buying tips :

  1. Smell it if you can before purchasing
  2. If it says Lavandin, it probably is.
  3. Look for the botanical names:  Lavender (L. x angustifolia) and Lavandin (L. x intermedia)
  4. Buy directly from the grower so you know what you are getting (don’t miss this opportunity if in the area)
  5. Ask if food grade before purchasing if using in food preparations (Lavender and Honey Ice Cream – Yum!!!)

Hope this article has been helpful, and don’t hesitate to ask questions if something is unclear.

Happy Travels !
– Girl Gone Gallic

PS – Just to keep you in the “lavender” mood, I am following up with “33 Uses for Lavender Essential Oil” > Enjoy !

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