Called “the Blue Gold” of Provence, the lavender is a fascinating flower with its fragrant scent, beautiful blue spikes as well as its numerous health and well-being benefits.
First cultivated by the Romans in order to perfume their baths and linen, as well as the later discovery of its unique olfactory and medicinal properties lead to lavender appearing in Provence during the Middle Ages. But it was only in the 19th century that the cultivation of this flower really flourished. The great perfumers started then to use the essential oil of fine lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) to develop their elixirs.
Difficult to cultivate, only growing between 500 meters and 1500 meters on the sunny sides of the mountains of Haute-Provence, fine lavender is the noblest and rarest of flowers. Its essential oil, the most sophisticated, has obtained the AOC “Haute-Provence essential oil” (In France, the appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC, “Controlled Designation of Origin”) is a certification of authenticity granted to certain geographical indications for agricultural products).
It is now increasingly supplanted by lavandin, resulting from the crossing between the fine lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and the lavender aspic (Lavandula Latifolia spica), a larger plant with higher yields of essential oil, but with lower olfactory quality.
Besides perfumery, lavender is used for its medicinal properties: antiseptic and bactericidal, anxiolytic and relaxing effects. Foodies will be happy to learn that lavender flowers or lavender essential oil is a really interesting ingredient to add in recipes. For example, it matches surprisingly well with lemon, apricot, chocolate, vanilla, white meat and poultry.