|Lavandula stoechas flowers|
Lavandula stoechas, the Spanish lavender or topped lavender (U.S.) or French lavender (U.K.), is a species of flowering plant in the family Lamiaceae, occurring naturally in several Mediterranean countries, including France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece.
An evergreen shrub, it usually grows to 30–100 cm (12–39 in) tall and occasionally up to 2 m (7 ft) high in the subspecies luisieri. The leaves are 1–4 cm long, greyish and tomentose. The inflorescence is crowned by a lump of purple and oblong-egg-shaped bracts , which are about 5 cm long. The underneath flowers form a tight rectangular in cross-section. The upper of the five teeth has a wrong-heart-shaped appendage. The crown is blackish-violet, up to 8 mm long and indistinct two-lipped.
The flowers, which appear in late spring and early summer, are pink to purple, produced on spikes 2 cm long at the top of slender, leafless stems 10–30 cm (4–12 in) long; each flower is subtended by a bract 4–8 mm long. At the top of the spike are a number of much larger, sterile bracts (no flowers between them), 10–50 mm long and bright lavender purple (rarely white). It blooms in spring and early summer, from the month of March, depending on the climate where it inhabits.
The recognised subspecies are:
- L. stoechas pedunculata, the common type specific plant, once taxonomically considered L. pedunculata. There is considerable variation in this subspecies, and it may be split into a number of distinct forms. It is native to many coastal regions of the Mediterranean, with some populations on the Atlantic coasts of Morocco and Spain.
- L. stoechas luisieri, which has petals much less interconnected. It is found mainly in Portugal and adjacent regions of Spain.
This species is more fragile than common lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), as it is less winter hardy; but harsher and more resinous in its oils. Like other lavenders, it is associated with hot, dry, sunny conditions in alkaline soils. However, it tolerates a range of situations, though it may be short-lived.
Lavandula stoechas is used commercially in air fresheners and insecticides. Flower spikes have been used internally for headaches, irritability, feverish colds and nausea, and externally for wounds, rheumatic pain and as an insect repellent. The lavender also produces essential oils, which are not used economically. The infusion of its dry inflorescences are febrifuge and fight the affections of the chest and bronchi. It is used as antiseptic, digestive, antispasmodic, healing and antibacterial. The flowers are used in aromatherapy, to prepare infusions and essential oils that contain ketones (d-camphor and d-fenchone) and alcohols (borneol and terpineol).
Since its introduction into Australia, it has become an invasive species, widely distributed within the continent. It has been declared a noxious weed in Victoria since 1920. It also is regarded as a weed in parts of Spain.
- RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964.
- Dankwart Seidel: Flowers on the Mediterranean. Determine without fail with the 3-check . BLV, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-405-16294-7
- Upson and Andrews; The Genus Lavandula
- Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for Gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. ISBN 184533731X.
- "RHS Plant Selector - Lavandula 'Willow Vale'". Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 59. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
- Bown, Deni (2002). The Royal Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses (Revised ed.). DK. p. 257. ISBN 1-4053-0059-0.
- Csurches S., Edwards R.; National Weeds Program, Potential Environmental Weeds in Australia, Candidate Species for Preventative Control; Queensland Department of Natural Resources. January 1998 ISBN 0-642-21409-3
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