There are thought to be 35 different species of lavender (all from the genus lavandula). Here on the Jersey Lavender Farm we grow 2 of them, lavandula angustifolia (often known as English Lavender) and lavandula x intermedia (Lavandin or hybrid lavender). There are numerous varieties of both English Lavender (such as Hidcote, Munstead, Peter Pan and Royal Purple) and Lavandin (such as Grosso, Super, Sussex, Soumian and Abrialis) and lavender essential oil can be produced from all of these. But what are the differences between English Lavender and Lavandin?
Visual differences between English Lavender and Lavandin
The Lavandin varieties produce plants that tend to be larger than English Lavender, with longer, larger and more pointed flower spikes. With the Lavandin plants you also tend to get lateral shoots up the stem with additional smaller flower spikes. Lavandin varieties also usually flower later on in the year than English Lavenders. These differences mean that both of the 2 species can be used together in the garden successfully, to give a larger lavender display and a longer overall blooming season.
Essential Oil Production
One of the differences in the essential oil that is distilled from Lavandin varieties is that they produce up to 3 times more oil per kilo of plant material than English Lavender. For this reason Lavandin oil is cheaper to produce than oil from English Lavender and so is often used in cheaper lavender products e.g. commercial fragrances, household soaps and detergents etc. This isn’t necessarily an indication that Lavandin oil is of an inferior quality to than that from English Lavender oil; it’s just a different oil and has different uses.
One key difference between English Lavender essential oil and oil produced from Lavandin, is that Lavandin oil contains a much higher percentage of camphor. Typically English Lavender essential oil contains between 0%-0.6% camphor, whereas Lavandin oil contains between 6%-10% camphor. Obviously this has an effect on the individual fragrances of English Lavender and Lavandin oils, with the Lavandin oils giving off a stronger and more pungent small, whereas English Lavender produces a more subtle, sweet, floral aroma. It is partly due to this property that we use English Lavender in our Jersey Lavender products. However this does not mean that oils from Lavandins should be disregarded. The higher camphor content means that Lavandin oil can be more effective at clearing congestion, repelling insects and freshening rooms than English Lavender essential oil.