A long row of English lavender plants
Lavandula angustifolia

English lavender

Family: Lamiaceae
Other common names: Espígol (Catalan), 薰衣草 (Chinese Simplified, Traditional), levandule lékařská (Czech), smalbladige lavendel (Dutch), common lavender (English), tähklavendel (Estonian), tähkälaventeli (Finnish), lavande vraie, lavande à feuilles étroites (French), echter lavendel (German), אזוביון רפואי (Hebrew), közönséges levendula (Hungarian), lavanda vera (Italian), ラベンダー (Japanese), Šaurlapu lavanda (Latvian), tikroji levanda (Lithuanian), lavendel (Norwegian), lawenda wonna, lawenda wąskolistna (Polish), alfazema, lavanda-inglesa (Portuguese), prava sivka (Slovenian), lavanda (Spanish), lavendel (Swedish), ลาเวนเดอร์ธรรมดา (Thai)
IUCN Red List status: Least Concern

The fragrant smell of English lavender, along with its versatility of uses, have made it an incredibly popular herb for thousands of years.

Today, you can find lavender in everything from shortbread to soaps, as well as in countless aromatherapy products.

In fact, a number of royals have favoured lavender. King Louis XIV enjoyed lavender scented baths. Elizabeth I carried lavender to fight off stenches, as well as the plague. And Queen Victoria preferred lavender jelly over mint with her roast lamb.

English lavender is in the mint family, Lamiaceae, which also contains mint, rosemary and sage.

English lavender is an aromatic shrub that can grow up to 2m tall, as a wooden-stemmed shrubs or a non-woody herb. The leaves are evergreen, narrow spear-shaped, around 4cm long, and 5mm across. The flowers are usually light to dark purple, although there are white varieties, and grow in clusters at the top of slim stems.

Read the scientific profile of English lavender

Beauty and cosmetics

Lavender essential oils are used in a range of soaps, perfumes, lotions and other cosmetics due to its fragrant scent.


Lavender is a symbol for the gay community, starting in the early part of the 20th century, when gay men were referred to as 'lavender boys' as they were not considered truly masculine. This led to both the colour and flower become a symbol of empowerment and resistance in the LGBTQ+ community.

Food and drink

Both the flower buds and the green leaves and stems of lavender are used in herbal teas.

Lavender honey is produced by bees exclusively visiting lavender plants.

Lavender is often used in sweet desserts, like cakes, shortbreads and even ice cream. 


Lavender is used in a huge number of aromatherapy-based products, such as candles and oil burners, for its relaxing properties.

Lavender works as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.

  • Both the common name ‘lavender’ and the genus name Lavandula originally come from the Latin word ‘lavare’, meaning to wash, as it was thought the Romans used infusions of lavender to help with cleaning.

  • The species name angustifolia is Latin for 'narrow leaf'.

  • Due to their origins in a Mediterranean climate, lavender is a good drought-tolerant plant for planting in gardens.

A map showing where English lavender is native and introduced to
Native: France, Italy, Spain
Introduced: Austria, Bulgaria, East Aegean Is., Germany, Krym, Marianas, New York, Tunisia, Venezuela, Vermont, West Himalaya

Grows in rocky soils, grassy meadows and on hills and cliffsides in temperate regions.

Kew Gardens

A botanic garden in southwest London with the world’s most diverse living plant collection.


Great Broadwalk Borders, Mediterranean Garden, Davies Alpine House

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Best time to see
Flowers: Jun, Jul, Aug
Foliage: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec

Other plants

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The geographical areas mentioned on this page follow the World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions (WGSRPD) developed by Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG).