The Lavenders Lavandula are a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native to the Mediterranean region south to tropical Africa and to the southeast regions of India. The genus includes annuals, herbaceous plants, subshrubs, and small shrubs. The native range extends across the Canary Islands, North and East Africa, south Europe and the Mediterranean, Arabia, and India. Because the cultivated forms are planted in gardens world-wide, they are occasionally found growing wild, as garden escapees, well beyond their natural range. Because Lavender cross-pollinates easily, however, there are countless variations within the species.
The most common "true" species in cultivation is the Common Lavender Lavandula angustifolia (formerly L. officinalis). A wide range of cultivars can be found. Other commonly grown ornamental species are L. stoechas, L. dentata, and L. multifida.
"Lavandula intermedia" or "Lavendin" is the most cultivated species for commercial use, since its flowers are bigger and the plants are easier to harvest, but Lavendin oil is regarded to be of a lower quality.
Lavenders are widely grown in gardens. Flower spikes are used for dried flower arrangements. The fragrant, pale purple flowers and flower buds are used in potpourris. Dried and sealed in pouches, they are placed among stored items of clothing to give a fresh fragrance and as a deterrent to moths.
The plant is also grown commercially for extraction of lavender oil from the flowers. This oil is used as an antiseptic and for aromatherapy. Lavender is also used extensively as herbal filler inside sachets used to freshen linens and discourage moths from closets and drawers. Dried lavender flowers have become recently popular used as confetti for tossing after a wedding.