So Many Lavenders, So Little Time

Lavender? Spike Lavender? French lavender? True lavender? It can be downright confusing when someone says, “Just try Lavender!” Isn’t Lavender, just Lavender?

 I wish it were that easy. There are over 40 known species of Lavender. Let me explain to you what you need to know so that you pick out the best type for you.

Lavender is the general name, what most people will refer to. But as with a lot of essential oils, there are many species or “types”. So if you see a bottle from an essential oil company that just says Lavender without listing its species, pass on it. It is fundamental for all reputable companies to list the Latin name on their bottles.

As I stated above, you need to know the Latin name. This distinguishes one type of Lavender from another. The Latin name should be italicized.

The first word is the genus. This is a more generalized classification and it always capitalized.

The second word is the species. This is more specific and begins with a lower case letter.  

Think of it this way. The genus is like the parents.  The species is like the siblings. While they share parents, they are different from each other. 

Let’s take a look at the two most popular species: True Lavender and Spike Lavender.

True Lavender (general name)

Latin name: Lavandula angustifolia

 

Spike Lavender (general name)

Latin name: Lavandula latifolia

 

They both share the same genus, Lavandula.

However, they both have different species names. This means that are different. They both have different qualities due to different chemical constituents. Let’s compare the two.

 

True Lavender

Lavandula angustifolia

Spike Lavender

Lavandula latifolia

Steam distilled from flower

Steam distilled from flower

Middle-Top Note

Middle Note

Relaxing, calming

Stimulating, Promotes alertness

Gentle

Has 1,8 cineole and camphor

Generally safe for children

Not recommended for children

Generally ok for pregnancy

Not recommended for pregnancy

Skin healing

Skin penetrating

Great for tension headaches

Great for sinus headaches

Helps relieve congestion

Helps ease cough due to congestion

Helpful at night

Could keep you awake at night

Good addition to blends used for pain or inflammation

Wonderful for painful muscles and inflammation

 

I hope this helps with the “Great Lavender Mystery”. While not exactly the most pressing mystery on Earth, you can say you learned something new today. And you can tell people you speak Latin. Sort of. :)