Lavender became part of popular tradition thanks to its delicate, fresh and persistent perfume. It has always been used to perfume clothes and linen. Its name in Italian “lavanda” has been literally taken from the Latin gerund of the verb “lavare” (that which must be washed) alluding to the fact that that this species was much used in ancient times (most of all in the Middle Ages) for body hygiene. Lavender was and is a base product for the preparation of pot-pourri to perfume the home as far back as 1700. Lavandula Officinalis
It grows in the Mediterranean and mountainous (from 900 ft to 3,300 ft ) regions in dry terrain areas which are exposed to the sun and contain a fair amount of limestone. It is a plant with a brown woody base and without leaves from which numerous herbaceous stems develop, reaching a height of 27,6. The inflorescence is found at the end of the stem; the flowers are united in dark bluish apexes which together form a sort of spike which are gathered at the beginning of June-July. It grows naturally, especially below 1.640 ft and is widely cultivated above all in the Provence, where it is possible to admire many different amazing varieties, which as well as filling the air with their delicious fragrance, give a characteristic color to the countryside. During the month of August there are many lavender fairs in this region of France, among which one of the most impressive is that of Valreas. The first Saturday and the first Monday of August, at sunset, huge carts filled with flowers parade along the streets of the town inebriating the public with the lavender essence, the distribution of bouquets and folklore dancing.
There are two species which are currently cultivated in Italy: Lavanda vera (Lavandula officinalis) and Lavandino (a hybrid between Lavandula officinalis and Lavandula latifolia).
The first, common lavender, is cultivated mainly in Emilia and in Tuscany, whilst lavandino is a typical cultivation of Liguria (from the province of Imperia) and Piedmont. The area destined to the cultivation of both species is , in any case, still very small and probably doesn’t exceed – in total for the entire national area, 250 acres. In recent years, lavender cultivation has slightly increased, in consideration of another product which the lavender plant is able to supply as well as the essential oil: honey. In fact the perfume of the lavender, attracts the bees which produce an excellent aromatic honey, a rare and valuable product. Did you know that, in spite of the fact that the homeland of lavender is known to be the Provence, the old vineyards of Piedmont, which are no longer productive, are perfect for the cultivation of this plant to obtain the essence and as pasture for bees? In fact, the honey which the bees make from lavender is of great value and lavender visited by honey bees makes 20% more essence.