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What Is the Difference Between Lavender and Lavandin?

Field of Lavandula x intermedia, lavandin.
L. latifolia, French lavender.
Close-up of L. angustifolia, English lavender.
Lavender plant flowers.
Lavender oil can treat burns, while lavandin oil can't.
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  • Written By: Karyn Maier
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 July 2014
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Most people are familiar with lavender, the popular garden plant that features tall purple flower spikes which define the plant’s name. Many people mistakenly believe that there is only one kind of lavender, however, when the Lavandula family is composed of 39 different species. Another common misconception is that one species of lavender is much the same as another. Although the “true” species from which lavender oil is obtained is Lavandula angustifolia (formerly L. officinalis), there are several cultivars and hybrids. Lavandin is one of them, as indicated by the “x” in its botanical name of Lavandula x intermedia, the inclusion of which is in compliance with the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.

The primary difference between lavandin and lavender is that the former is not a true lavender. It is a cross between L. angustifolia, commonly known as English lavender, and L. latifolia, or spike lavender, which is referred to as French lavender since France is the largest producer. The flowers of this hybrid yield an essential oil called spike lavender oil. While this oil does have some similar properties to the oil obtained from English lavender, it has a different chemical composition and, therefore, different characteristics.

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For example, lavender contains various sesquiterpenes, monoterpenes, and linalool. In combination, these constituents lend its oil a floral fragrance that can be described as both sweet and spicy. Lavandin also contains linalool, but much higher concentrations of terpenes, most notably camphor. This chemical arrangement produces an essential oil with a pungent odor similar to menthol or turpentine. In terms of what these two species have to offer to perfumery and aromatherapy, they stand a world apart.

Another significant difference between lavender and lavandin oils is their respective effect in treating burns. Even though they both possess antimicrobial properties, lavender oil helps with burns while lavandin oil does not. In fact, the latter can actually make burns worse, most likely due to its high camphor content.

Differences aside, there are some benefits to recognize about lavandin. It yields a greater crop volume than English lavender and the variety predominately grown in France today, known as Grosso, is more disease-resistant. It is also more weather-tolerant, making it a suitable landscaping plant in colder regions. In addition, it is cheaper to process the essential oil from this variety, which is why it is preferred over lavender for scenting commercial soaps and detergents.

Consumers should be aware that some manufacturers of so-called lavender oil are actually offering the more economical lavandin oil, or a combination of the two. Since quality matters when it comes to therapeutic purposes, it’s important to know what’s really in the product. The only way to know for sure is to determine the species from which the oil was produced.

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Discuss this Article

anon950235
Post 9

Lets' not dismiss Lavandin. It offers a sweeter and more floral scent life to products and is still natural. Okay, it doesn't help with burns and is cheaper, but it's just different, it's not 'wrong'.

ysmina
Post 8

@anon266518-- I have no idea, but is the scent really that distinct?!

I don't have lavender oil but I do have both lavender and lavandin drawer and clothes fresheners. It's basically dried lavender an lavandin put into a cloth sack.

I looked at them and they look the same to me. They have very similar flowers and the same color. The scent is almost the same. I have no idea how people tell apart the two just by scent.

But maybe the oil is more potent and the scent might become more apparent then. I can't tell at all with dry lavender and lavandin.

stoneMason
Post 7

@fify-- I'm sure the ingredients list mentions which type of lavender was used in the product. They usually use the latin name of botanicals in ingredients lists.

So both start with "lavandula," if you see an "x" in the name like the article said, you'll know that it's not lavender. You just need to start checking ingredients lists before buying those products.

fify
Post 6

No wonder I am not equally pleased with lavender products. Sometimes, I find a lavender soap or moisturizer that smells heavenly. And sometimes I find one that is pungent and bothersome rather than pleasant.

I've always wondered how this could be and this article answered my question. I'm sure some of these products contain lavandin instead of true lavender but they are still labeled as such. There should be restrictions on what brands can put in their labels.

myharley
Post 5

I have some French lavender essential oil that I like to use when I wash my clothes. I just sprinkle a few drops of this in the washer, and this leaves my clothes with a soft lavender scent.

After reading this article, this is probably not a true lavender essential oil, but is probably really lavandin.

This is something I will continue to use because I love the floral scent and don't really need to use it for any health benefits.

Mykol
Post 4

If someone is looking for therapeutic benefits from organic lavender essential oil, I would make sure you go with the real thing.

If you buy lavandin, you may be getting a very sweet, floral scent, but you won't get the therapeutic benefits you are looking for. Sure, it is cheaper, but if it doesn't work, you have wasted your money anyway.

SarahSon
Post 3

I am not a big fan of the scent of lavender, but know how beneficial it can be. There are many benefits of lavender essential oil, and I think you would only receive these benefits if you use a true lavender essential oil.

If you get a burn, this really helps speed up the healing process. Lavender essential oil has been called the Swiss army knife of essential oils because of all the different things you can use it for.

It is also used in a lot of skin care products, but I usually buy products that have a different scent than lavender.

andee
Post 2

I love the smell of lavender and have many beauty products with this scent. I never knew what the difference was between lavender and a lavandin.

Now when I read the labels on my bottles, I will know whether I am getting the real lavender pure essential oil or not.

anon266518
Post 1

Of all places, I bought a teeny bottle of great sweet-smelling lavender essential oil at Michaels craft store. To replace it I bought a larger bottle of lavender oil at the natural food store, thinking it was the same.

When I opened the large bottle, it had a menthol odor, not sweet at all. The teeny bottle from Michaels, on sale, was almost the same price as the natural food store larger bottle. Now I know why. You get what you pay for. It smelled awful when I brought it home. And the Michaels lavender oil was made in France.

Anyone know what brand it might be or what brand provides the sweet lavender smell?

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