On this page
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 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.
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.
Did you know?
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.
Where in the world?
Grows in rocky soils, grassy meadows and on hills and cliffsides in temperate regions.
Find it in our gardens
A botanic garden in southwest London with the world’s most diverse living plant collection.