Herb of the Month: Lavender Plant
I am starting a new monthly series on Homemade for Elle, where I can explore and share different uses of herbal plants. I got the idea from Natural Herbal Living Magazine, who produces a monthly e-magazine, highlighting a different herb each month. My series is going to be different than Natural Herbal Living Magazine, for one, because they are way more knowledgeable on herbal plants than I am! Seriously, the staff of writers over there have an insane amount of knowledge regarding the herbs they cover. If you’re looking to really get to know herbs, I highly recommend subscribing to their monthly magazine. You’ll learn loads.
My series will be much less in-depth, and will just provide a basic overview of information that I find useful or interesting, along with 4 or 5 different posts on how to incorporate the herb into your daily life, in beneficial ways.
My all time favorite herb, along with most non-herbalists, is the lavender plant. It is a highly approachable plant, because it tends to be mild, calming and accessible for most people. I think almost everyone has been exposed to the lavender plant in some way, even if it’s only as an artificial fragrance added to commercial bath salts (note: the real stuff smells so much better).
So let’s jump right in.
Common name: Lavender
Indigenous countries: Lavender is indigenous to the Mediterranean. Today, it is grown throughout Australia, the United States and southern Europe.
Description: Lavender plants contain both annual and short-lived perennial plants. They range in size from small plants to small shrubs. The flowers of lavender plants may be blue, violet, lilac, blackish purple or yellow.
Cultivation: The most common type of lavender cultivated is English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). Lavender thrives in dry sandy or gravelly soils and prefers full sun.
Uses: There are many uses for lavender.
- Lavender essential oil: used in perfumes, cosmetics, balms, salves, bath and beauty products.
- Medicinal purpose: lavender has been used medicinally for more than 2,500 years. Perhaps the most well-known use for lavender is for relaxation and stress-relief. Additionally, lavender has been used to treat toothaches, sprains, joint issues, insomnia, autoimmune disease and wound treatments, to name a few.
- Culinary purpose: Lavender lends a slightly sweet flavor and a floral addition to dishes. It can typically be found in salad dressings, cake decorations, herbal teas, and spice blends (herbes de Provence).
That concludes my super brief overview of the lavender plant, and how it can be used. Now let’s put that knowledge into action! I will be posting every Sunday throughout February on a different use for the lavender plant, and will be sharing lots of great recipes to try out! I’ll link the posts as they’re published, but be sure to check back for:
- February 7th: Uses for lavender essential oil
- February 14th: Cooking with lavender
- February 21st: Lavender for stress relief
- February 28th: Decorating with lavender
If you have any favorite recipes or ways to use lavender, post them in the comments below, and I’ll try to include them in the posts!
Sources and additional reading on the lavender plant:
- Lavendula by Wikipedia
- Lavenders by Botanical: A Modern Herbal
- Lavender 1 – 2 – 3 by Mountain Valley Growers
- Lavender by University of Maryland Medical Center
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