Lavandula angustifolia Mill.
This article was translated by Angela Iancu!
Fr.: Lavande; G.: Echter Lavendel;M.: Szagos levendula; R. Lavanda kalasovaia
Identification elements: the plant: it is a cultivated shrub, with a long life (up to 20-30 years), similar to a globular bush because of its rich ramification starting from the base, with a green-grayish color, 30-70 (100) cm tall; the root: lignified, 2-3 cm thick; the stem: when young the stem is quadrangular, pubescent, the old ramifications are lignified, brown with the bark peeled off, with numerous ramifications, the terminal ones are 25-30 cm long with flowers and with leaves only at the base, the sterile ones are shorter and with leaves; leaves: opposed, entire, linear with pointed apex, sessile, 2-5 cm long and 3-5 mm wide (the bottom ones towards the lower limit, the upper ones towards the higher limit), with the edge twisted upwards, giving the leaf the form of a gutter; the color of the bottom leaves is grayish because of the hairs on both sides, the upper leaves being less hairy, have a green-grayish color; flowers: grouped in fake whorls with 3-7 lipped flowers almost sessile; the whorls are arranged in the upper parts of some branches, resembling a spike long of 3-7 cm; fruits: light brown, shiny, ovoid nuts, 2mm long, grouped in 4.
Flowering: VI – VIII.
Raw material: Flores Lavandulae – the dry flowers detached from the stalks of the inflorescence have a violet-blue color. The flowers have brown, ovate, membranous bracts, cylindrical, hairy, glandulous calyx with unicellular glandular hairs that have 4-6 mm in length and 3-4 mm in diameter; of a grayish-violet color with 10-15 parallel veins, with 5 small teeth, 2 of which are more developed. The corolla is bilabial, 5-8 mm in length, of a violet-blue color, hairy and glandulous, with the tube almost straight. The upper labium is bilobed, the lower lobe has three obtuse lobes. The color of the flowers varies from violet-blue to light blue. The odor is pleasant, flavored and the taste is slightly bitter.
Ecology and distribution: It’s a plant of Mediterranean origin and it requires high temperatures both for germination (10-15°) as well for the vegetation in the following years (10-12° or even 14° for the plants that come out weak from the winter). The cold resistance is high in the resting period, the plant could endure -15° without snow and -30° under snow but during the vegetation (late freezing in autumn or early freezing in spring) the plant is affected at -8…-10°. In the vegetation period, the more higher the temperature, the more developed the plant will be and the content in essential oil will increase.
The humidity requirements are low and the drought can be endured well. The soil humidity needs to be higher in order for the seeds to germinate and for the plant to develop roots. For good vegetation, spring rains are welcomed when the plant starts into vegetation but the rains are harmful during the flowering season.
The light is an important element, especially for the synthesis of the essential oil because the direct sunlight increases the percentage by 2-3 times than the shade.
The lavender is extremely undemanding towards the soil, it can grow on sterile soil, especially the ones rich in calcium. It does not stand soils with humidity excess, stagnant water or surface ground water.
Because of smaller requests towards the soil and humidity, the lavender can be successfully used to exploit the more arid hillside soils, not suitable for other cultures, like the slopes of the hills in Dobrogea, the wasted lands in the south-east of Moldavia and other similar areas in the south and west of the country. Especially the limestone hills of Dobrogea match the conditions in which the plant grows in its native area, on the Mediterranean slopes of the French Alps, Dalmatia and Greece. Providing that a good humidity is assured in the first two years, the plant could be cultivated in these areas with higher results regarding the volatile oil than in the area that is presently cultivated – Feldioara (Brasov county), colder and wetter than the optimum of the plants ecological requests.
Because the plant is also ornamental, it is recommended to be cultivated in parks, gardens, in generally in open spaces.
Cultivation technology: For the lavender culture it is recommended to cultivate the land 2-3 years before with fodder plants so as to maintain it free of weeds. It is contra-indicated to start a lavender culture on a field infested with couch grass, pelamid or other similar plants. The lavender being a semi-shrub that stays on the same soil for 20-25 years, it is recommended that the repetition of the culture should be done after a period of 8-9 years. After the early cultures, the ploughing is executed at a depth that not reveals stones. In autumn, the soil is ploughed at a depth of 40-50 cm and it is fertilized with 40-50 t/ha of well fermented farmyard manure. Also, in autumn it is recommended that with 2-3 weeks before planting a 20-22 cm deep ploughing is done and with this occasion it is incorporated in the soil 50-60 kg/ha of phosphor and 40-50 kg/ha of potassium. In the spring, between the rows, 70-80 kg/ha of nitrogen are spread in two phases: the first half at the first mechanical hoeing and the second half after 4-5 weeks. Additional fertilizers are recommended to be used yearly, starting from the third year of culture, before the flower buds appear, like 30-40 kg/ha of phosphor, 20-30 kg/ha of potassium and 30-40 kg/ha of nitrogen. If the lavender is grown on acid soils, these will be improved with 4-5 t/ha of chalk. Until planting, the soil will be maintained free of weeds.
The lavender can be multiplied either by seeds in cold beds where the seedlings are grown, or by stools obtained through the separation of the bushes. The sowing of the beds will be done in late autumn, when winter starts, so that the seeds will emerge only in spring. To obtain the seedlings for one hectare of culture are necessary 150 m² of cold beds in which are sowed 1,4 kg of seeds with 97% purity, 70% germination and 12% humidity. The average weight of 1000 seeds is of 1,0282 g and a gram usually contains an average of 973 seeds.
The transplantation is done in autumn the next year, in September, on rainy weather so that the plants have time to grow roots until the first freeze. In autumns without rains the soil is abundantly watered. If the transplantation was delayed and the frost is on the way, this work will be executed in early spring, case in which the plants will be well watered because its harder for them to be rooted. When transplanting, a distance of 80 cm is maintained between the rows and between the plants on the same row. The long roots are shortened at about 10-15 cm and after cleaning they get muddy.
When planting, the earth should be easily pressed around the plants. For winter preparation, the plants are being covered with a layer of earth 3-5 m thick.
A multiplying material much more reliable than the one from the seeds is obtained from the stools of the bush. For this purpose is used a culture of 3-4 years old or a culture specially grown for this. In October-November, the aerial part of the bush is being cut up to 8-10 cm above the ground and the remaining parts are being buried into the earth. In the spring, after the vegetation started and the aerial parts are developed, the bushes are covered once again with earth. During the summer, the plants make few stools that are well rooted. In autumn, the plants are being taken out of the soil and separated in several seedling plants that are going to be fortified for one year. One bush can produce up to 200 seedling plants.
In the first year of culture, the flowers are removed so as not to weaken the plant and in autumn the tips of the branches are cut to increase the resistance to cold. Yearly, in the spring, the bushes are cleaned of the dry branches, especially of the flower shanks from the previous year and the tips are cut off.
For the success of the culture, the field should be free of weeds and the soil aired all through the plants vegetation period. The hoeing is done whenever necessary as the plants are active until late autumn and after harvesting the stools are formed that will flower the next year. The last hoeing, in autumn, is executed at a depth of 12-15 cm, when the plants are covered with earth.
The first rejuvenation process is done after 6-7 years of culture and the second one when it is necessary, taking into consideration the health and production status of the crop.
The final estimation of the production is done by determining the number of bushes per m², the number of flowers on a bush, the weight of 1000 fresh flowers, considering that from 5 kg of fresh flowers results 1 kg of dry flowers.
At the crops well maintained, the harvest starts in the second year of culture, in June-July, when the plants reach full blooming; the tips of the inflorescence are cut with a sickle 5 cm below the last flower. The work is performed on dry and warm weather, after the dew evaporated. The inflorescences are harvested in the first part of the day, when they contain the biggest quantity of oil. After cutting, they are put in baskets, without pressing them, and they are transported as quickly as possible to the drying or distillation place.
For seed are reserved the small bushes with flowers colored in violet-blue and after the seed is collected and conditioned, it is kept in cloth bags.
Disease, pests and means of control: The lavender is attacked by dodder, root mould and mildew. The dodder is controlled by cutting and burning the attacked lavender stems, before this can fructify.
The root mould can be controlled by destroying the diseased plants, by airing the roots and if the water stagnates on the field, by draining it.
The mildew is controlled by spraying the plants with Bordeaux mixture 0,25% before flowering or after the flowers are collected.
The lavender can be attacked by pests like: the larva of the May beetle, by mole crickets, flees, lice and ants. The larvae of the may beetle are controlled by agro -technical works, the mole cricket by traps with arsenic substances, the flees and lice by powdering them with Lindatox-3, the ants by traps with sodium arsenate and bran (16 kg of bran, 12 l of water, 400 g of sodium arsenate). This mixture is sweeten with sugar or honey dew.
Preparing the product for processing: The flowers are dried naturally in well aired, dry, shadowed rooms or artificially at a temperature of maximum 35°C. When they are naturally dried, the flowers are arranged in thin layers on frames, mats etc. During drying, they are carefully turned from time to time to avoid turning brown or an uneven drying. The flowers are packed in crates that are kept in dry, clean, aired places. The efficiency at drying is of 5-7/1.
When the flowers are used for extracting oil, immediately after harvesting, they are transported in baskets or crates to the place of processing to avoid the heating which causes great losses of oil. For the oil extraction it is not allowed to harvest more than can be processed in 24 hours.
For the reception are not admitted organic foreign bodies, the max. percentage for impurities being of 5% (remains of flower stems, brown flowers etc.), mineral foreign bodies – max. 0,5%, humidity – max. 11%.
For the fresh product used for oil extraction are admitted max. 5% impurities, organic foreign bodies – max. 0,25% and mineral – max. 0,5%, normal humidity of the fresh product.
Chemical structure: Fresh flowers contain 0,5-1% volatile oil and the dry ones contain 1-3%. The volatile oil contains 44-50% of linalil acetate, linalil butyrate, geraniol, linalool in a free state, linalil valerate, borneol, coumarin, ethyl n-amyl ketone, nerol, furfurol, α-pinene, cariophilen, acids and esters etc. Also, the flowers contain tannin, mineral substances.
Pharmaceutical actions – therapeutic uses: Due to the components of the volatile oil, this is a strong aromatic with local antiseptic action and slightly antispastic. The flowers have a carminative action and weak effects on nerve stimulation. It’s used internally for the carminative effect, for digestive problems, in headaches and as a general stimulant, as aromatic and corrective. It is in the composition of the antiasthmatic cigarettes. The lavender volatile oil is very much required in cosmetic and perfumery.
The phytotherapeutic products derived from lavender have a sedative, diuretic, coleretical, antiseptic and cicatrizing action. The volatile lavender oil has the property to normalize the heart function by moderating the excitability of some inner receptors.
Therapeutic indications: The phytotherapy with lavender products is indicated in neurasthenia, tiredness, nervous irritability moods, migraines and other headaches, kidney and liver diseases.
Preparation and administration: The tea is prepared from 1-2 teaspoons of flowers added in one cup of water. Two-three cups are to be drunk every day.
For external use, are recommended full baths. An infusion is prepared out of 50-75 g of flowers (approx. one handful of flowers) put in one liter of boiling water. The tea obtained is added in the bath water. The baths are taken in series of 10 -20. For a bath it can also be used the volatile oil in the form of a concentrated emulsion in equivalent quantity.
For injuries, local washing can be done or it can be applied a compress soaked in a more concentrated infusion (1 spoon of flowers for 1 cup of water).
Miscellaneous: The lavender oil is used in pharmacies to mask the unpleasant smell of some medicines and on an even greater scale in the cosmetic industry, for manufacturing some products for hand and face care, for soaps and detergents. The insecticide effect of the lavender flowers can be used in a household for controlling moths. For this purpose, the plant is positioned among the clothes and moreover they will have a nice smell.
Observations: For the same purpose it is also cultivated Lavandula hybrida Reverchon (Lavandin or English Lavender) – which is a hybrid between L. angustifolia and L. latifolia (L.) Medik. (Spanish lavender), which has the inflorescence ax with two long ramification and the plant is taller (50-90 cm) and the leaves up to 1 cm wide (compared to 5 mm of the lavender) and hairy.