How much do you really know about lavender?
The emblematic flower of Provence attracts people from all over the world. It covers the Luberon fields from June onwards, much to everybody’s delight. It is not uncommon to see cars parked on the side of the road, and a few heads sticking out of these large deep blue carpets in the distance. Couples in search of the romantic cliché that they will frame when the holidays are over, Chinese newlyweds, mothers with their baby in their arms… Everyone dreams of taking the perfect photo with this amazing blue as a backdrop.
The intense smell of lavender is recognized worldwide. The one that emanates directly from the flower is incomparable, very far from the synthetic smell of sprays. Its calming and medicinal properties are well known, but do you know the difference between the different types of lavender?
Fine lavender grows in Provence, on the heights, in arid areas above 800 meters of altitude. It can be found on the Sault Plateau and the Albion Plateau. Fine lavender is small, with only one flower per stem. Its reproduction is ensured by its seeds. Fine lavender or population lavender has always been used for its medicinal virtues, the greatest perfumers have composed with the “blue gold”. Its very delicate smell explains the name, “fine lavender”. To obtain 1 litre of essential oil, 130 kilos of flowers are required. One hectare of plantations can produce up to 25 litres of essential oil.
Aspic lavender, another type of lavender, grows up to 600 metres above sea level, in the middle of the Provençal scrubland. Large in size, it has several small flowers on each stem. It also reproduces by seeds. Not very popular in France – its perfume is quite strong and camphorated -, it is used in Spain and in Portugal, as a thinner for oil and porcelain paint.
Lavandin is found up to 800 metres above sea level all around the planet. Large, with two branches, it grows in a ball-shaped tuft. It is a cross between fine lavender and aspic lavender. Created by humans, it cannot reproduce without the intervention of the latter, by cutting. It is a kind of hybrid version of its two cousins. Grown since the 1950s, it could be confused with fine lavender. But its fragrance is stronger, much less subtle. It cannot be used for medicinal purposes. It can be used in cleaning products and detergents. It is this same flower that is found in the small lavender sachets you will see everywhere. Only 40 kilos of flowers are needed to obtain 1 litre of lavandin essential oil: much more profitable than fine lavender!