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lavender flowers bloom

Knowing the different lavender

Lavender is the most known and the most used of all the Essential Oils. Few people, however, know the different ones. We are therefore no longer talking about one variety but SEVERAL varieties of lavender. In this article, I am comparing these EO because they do not have the same benefits (although they are closely related), nor the same warnings and they are not used in the same fashion.



The different varieties of lavender EO

Although there are numerous varieties, 4 of them are the most important:

True Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia or Lavandula vera, Lavandula officinalis) known also as fine or officinal lavender
Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia or Lavandula spica) or wild lavender
Hybrid Lavender (Lavandula hybrida or Lavandula x burnatii clone super) natural hybrid between Lavandula augustifolia and Lavandula latifolia
Sea Lavender (Lavandula stoechade) also known as butterfly lavender

A little bit of botany


True lavender – Lavandula vera – brings together in fact several lavenders. What makes them different is the altitude at which they grow because it will affect their biochemistry and the active components of the EO extract (notably the quantity of camphor).

From the highest to the lowest we have, therefore:

Fine wild lavender – Lavandula Angustifolia – its authentic form.

This plant of 50 to 70 cm has only one flower on each stem and blooms at about 2000 m altitude in the Alps of Haute-Provence. It is the highest quality lavender (by its smell and composition) but its harvest is limited.

Cultivated fine lavender grows in the dry mountains of Provence on chalky terrain at about 800 to 1000 m altitude. It is rather fragile and its availability is uneven from one year to the next. It blooms from the end of June onwards.

Fresh, floral smell, makes it particularly interesting in perfumery
Yield: 130 kg of flowers needed for 1 litre of EO by distillation.

Officinal lavender – Lavandula officinalis – cultivated on a larger scale and at a lower altitude is much more resistant.

Aroma: greener and more intense

Sensitive to cold weather, Spike lavender is a small bush of a height of 30 to 60 cm, growing at an altitude of 200 to 800 m in the sunny Provence ‘garrigue’ (or scrubland) around the Mediterranean. It can be recognised by its larger, hairy leaves with several ramifications, each stem carries several flowers of a small size. It blooms later and takes place during August.

Perfume: less pleasant and more camphor
Yield: 100 kg of flowers needed for 500 to 800 g of EO!

Hybrid lavender grows between 0 and 800 m altitude all over the world. It is large and has two ramifications, forming a very dense ball-like tuft. It is a natural hybrid born from the cross-pollination of the true (Lavandula angustifolia) and the spike (Lavendula latifolia). Hybrid lavender (Lavandula x hybrida) is therefore sterile and is propagated by man through cuttings.

Perfume: stronger and less subtle than fine lavender
Yield: 40 kg of flower needed for 1 l hybrid lavender EO


What they have in common

Perennial shrub or bush with purple flower spikes, more or less perfumed depending on the variety, lavenders belong to the botanical family of Lamiaceae.

Originating in the Mediterranean region they prefer dry soils and sunshine.

All lavenders have some common properties: all have healing properties and are more or less anti-infectious.


True or Officinal Lavender EO
Lavandula angustifolia – Lavandula officinalis

lavender essential oil illustrationIts greatest interest lies in its perfect harmlessness, thus allowing the entire family to use it. This is the one you really must-have in your pharmacy.

This EO is known as “The Queen of essential oils” for skin problems. Mothers know it for having used it as a gentle way of helping their children go to sleep or to treat lice, but also to help to heal or as a perfume for the linen cupboard.

Main components: Linalol, Linalyl acetate





Therapeutic: Cosmetic:
Strong antispasmodic Healing
Calming, sedative Skin regenerating
Anti-inflammatory Astringent
General antiseptic Purifying
Cardiotonic Refreshing
Healing Repellent

Counter-indications: none known to physiological doses


  • Sleep problems, stress, depression, anxiety, distress
  • Burns. Analgesic, healing and really soothes the burning sensation
  • Skin problems: acne, nail infections,
  • Wounds, ulcers, anal cracks
  • ENT infections, asthmatic bronchitis
  • Cramps, muscular soreness
  • Digestion: calms intestinal spasms, flatulence
  • Insect bites, scabies, lice
    Its distinctiveness: its polyvalence

Note: beware of counterfeits of this EO.

Spike or Wild Lavender EO

Lavandula latifolia

spike lavander

Not much used in the perfumery, it is the most interesting on the health front. Its spectrum of activity is stronger than true lavender in the area of ENT, notably in its efficiency at dissolving the mucus and its anti-inflammatory and anti-infectious action when confronted with rhino-pharyngitis in children.

Main components: Linalol, 1,8 cineole, camphor





Therapeutic: Cosmetic:
Expectorant, strong anti-catarrh Soothing
Anti-fungal Skin regenerating
Average anti-bacterial Astringent
Analgesic Skin-soothing (pimples, insect bites, jellyfish…)
Anti-infectious Refreshing

Beware Lavandula latifolia is rich in ketone. The usage of its EO can only be by external use.
Its high content of camphor is not recommended for:

Children under the age of 8
Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers
People suffering from convulsions


  • Headaches, migraines
  • Severe burns
  • ENT complaints, bronchitis, laryngitis, ear infection, thick nasal discharge, rhinitis…
  • Stings and bites of wasps, jellyfish, scorpion… 2 drops every 5 minutes for ½ hour
  • Skin mycosis (athlete’s foot) and gynaecological mycosis (Candida Albicans)
  • Skin infections, acne, over-infected pimples, psoriasis
  • Joint rheumatism

Its distinctiveness: its quick action in an emergency (insect bites, severe burns)

Note: beware, this EO can cause allergy over the long term.

Hybrid Lavender EO
Lavandula x burnatii clone super

In general, the hybrid lavender contains less camphor than the aspic lavender. As a result, the precautions of usage will be less severe.

Main components: Linalol, linalyl acetate, camphor


Strong anti-spasmodic Soothing, sedative
Muscle relaxing Anti-inflammatory
Healing Stimulating
Analgesic Light anticoagulant
Powerful hypotensive Thinner
Anti-infectious Cardiotonic

Do not use during pregnancy and breastfeeding or with children under the age of 3.


  • Industrial use for perfumery of cleaning products, detergents. The flower is used for the confection of ‘little lavender bags’.
  • Problem and sensitive skins: acne, pressure sores, stretch marks, rosacea
  • Anxiety, stress, depressive condition
  • Pain: cramps and muscular contractions

Sea Lavender EO
Lavandula stoechade


This one is a little different from the other varieties. It has large mauve floral spikes at the tips of the branches and is the most widespread variety in the Mediterranean basin. It grows mostly on non-chalky soils and blooms from May to July.

Main components: Fenchone, camphor,1,8 cineole, linalol, D-limonene


  • Powerful anti-catarrh, mucolytic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Specific anti-infectious
  • Tonic (in weak doses)
  • Healing

Beware, this variety of lavender is known to be abortive and neuro-toxic. It is not advised for babies, children or pregnant women.

To summarize
Overall, this is what should be remembered regarding lavender varieties:

True lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): excellent soothing and sedative. Totally harmless, it is very well tolerated and very effective. To remember without hesitation for most applications regarding the nervous system and the psycho-emotional field.

Spike lavender (Lavendula latifolia): soothes wounds, burns and other insect bites. It is also very effective for acne treatment.

Hybrid lavender (Lavandula x burnatii clone super): a natural hybrid of two lavender varieties, it gives the best of itself to soothe cramps and muscular contractions.

Sea lavender (Lavandula stoechade): helps with bronchial obstructions but should be used with great care.

Sources :
L’aromathérapie J. Valnet
Les Huiles Essentielles pour votre santé, G. Roulier

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