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Orris root, a grayish powder with the aroma of violets, is derived from the root of the Florentine iris. It is used less for its scent than for its fixative ability - that is, it slows the evaporation of essential oils and prolongs the life of pot-pourris. Orris root can be sprinkled around the edges of areas of carpet or under rugs to deter, although not kill, moths and destructive carpet beetles.

Dried orris root is used in homemade toothpastes and in pot-pourri (see pages 284-5).


Jasminum sp. Oleaceae

Many species of jasmine — the delicate floral emblem of Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines — are renowned for their superb sensuous scent, and the very valuable essential oil is produced in several countries for perfumery and aromatherapy.

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F is u ;d Flowers, roots royal jasmine, poet's jasmine or Spanish jasmine, is variously regarded as a variety of J. officinale 'Grandiflora,' or as the separate species, J. grandiflora.

Arabian jasmine (J. sambac) is used to make a fragrant tisane in China, the blossoms being hand-picked early in the morning and mixed with dried green or Oolong tea. Native to India, it forms an arching bush.

Double-flowered forms of J. sambac, favored for garlands and religious ceremonies, include the very double, miniature rose-like 'Duke of Tuscany' (syn. kudda-mulla), the semi-double 'Maid of Orleans' and the smaller-flowered double 'Belle of India!

Other common fragrant, white-flowered species include angel wing jasmine U nitidum), the pink-budded J. polyanthemum, Azores jasmine (J. azoricum), Canary Island jasmine [J. odoratissimum), J. multiflorum and J. floribundum. There are a number of yellow-flowered species, some fragrant, but they are not used herbally.

• Position Plants prefer a well-drained soil enriched with rotted compost. Most species require warm to tropical climates but in colder areas can make excellent glasshouse plants.

• Propagation Propagate jasmine from semi-ripened wood cuttings.

Angel wing jasmine (Jasminum nitidum)

Common jasmine [J. officinale) is a frost-hardy, tall twining climber with compound leaves and five-petaled, intensely fragrant flowers fused into a tube at the base. Brought to Europe in the 16th century, it is now extensively cultivated commercially for its flowers in southern France, Spain, India, Egypt, China, Algeria and Morocco. • Varieties Fancy leaf forms include 'Argenteovariegatum,' 'Aureum' and 'Frojas.' Fragrant J. x stepanense is a pink-flowered hybrid. The large-flowered Catalonian jasmine, also known as

Common jasmine (Jasminum officinale)

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Common jasmine (Jasminum officinale)

• Maintenance In cold areas J. sambac and its varieties should be overwintered under protection, because they are unlikely to survive frost exposure. Trim J. officinale immediately after flowering.

• Pests and diseases Jasmine plants grown in the open have few problems; however, those grown under glass can be attacked by whitefly, mealy bugs and spider mites.

• Harvesting and storing Gather fully developed buds in the early morning and add the opening flowers to tea. You can dry them for herbal use. Lift the roots of J. sambac in autumn and dry them for medicinal use.

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The delicate, star-shaped flowers of this evergreen vine are distilled to form an essential oil with a rich, warm floral sceni thai is important in perfumery. It blends well with other "floral'-style oils, such as rose, and is particularly helpful in preparations for dry. irritated or sensitive skin. The oil is also used in aromatherapy as an antidepressant and relaxant.

Opposite: Women in India display their baskets of harvested jasmine flowers.


Lavandula sp. Lamiaceae

Popular around the world, fragrant lavender is becoming one of the most important botanicals wilh a wide range of medicinal uses, earning it the title of "the Swiss Army knife of herbal medicine." Fresh or dried, lavender also has many applications around the home and the essential oil is used in homemade air fresheners and cleaning products.

Part used Flowers

There are about 30 species of lavender, which can be found from the Canary Islands eastward into western India, and they are divided into six sections, of which four are significant as herbs: Lavandula, containing true lavender (L angustifolia) and its subspecies - woolly lavender [L lonata), spike lavender (/.. latifolia) and hybrid lavender (L x intermedia)', Stoechas, containing L stoechas together with its various subspecies and green lavender (/_ viridis); Dentata, containing French or fringed lavender (L dentata) and its varieties and hybrids; and Pterostachys species, characterized by branched inflorescences and pinnate or bipinnate leaves. All have fragrant foliage.

Propagate varieties of lavender by cuttings taken in summer (see Stem cuttings, poge 163).

True lavender

L angustifolia syn. L vera, L officinalis, or 'English' lavender, occurs in the wild on dolamitic soils at altitudes of 1,500 to 5,000 ft. (500 to 1,500 m). Like all lavenders, it is a woody-based subshrub and will rarely exceed 2.5 ft. (70 cm) in height. It has unbranched flowering stems.

Excellent dwarf varieties include 'Rosea,' 'Compacta' syn. 'Nana Compacta,' 'Folgate' and 'Munstead.' Medium-height varieties include 'Hidcote,' 'Miss Katherine,' 'Pacific Blue,' 'Sarah; 'Summerland Supreme,' 'Melissa,' Twickel Purple,' Tucker's Early Purple' and 'Ashdown Forest.' The taller varieties include 'Alba' and the twice-flowering 'Irene Doyle.'

Essential oil gathered from wild harvested lavender in France is greatly prized, particularly therapeutically. The very fragrant camphor-free essential oil from high-altitude grown seedling or clonal (single variety) lavender is highly valued in the perfumery industry, herbal medicine and aromatherapy. Lavender has been grown in France on a large scale for the perfume trade since the 17th century.

The varieties grown for essential oil production include the great 'Maillettei 'Matheronne,' 'Fring,' 'Heacham Blue,' 'No. 9' and 'Norfolk J2.'

Both fresh and dried flowers are used in cooking (including herb mixtures such as herbes de Provence) and craftwork, for which the finest variety is 'Super-Blue.' Make sure that any flowers you use for culinary purposes have not been sprayed with garden chemicals.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Spike lavender

Sometimes called Nardus italica, spike lavender (L latifolia syn. L spica) is endemic to Spain, France, Italy and the Balkans, and grows in the wild at much lower altitudes than L angustifolia.

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The plant has a lavender and camphor scent, and the flowering stems have paired lateral branches. It is the source of oil of aspic (oleum spicae).

Intermedia lavenders

In the overlap zone on mountainsides where both L angustifolia and L latifolia grow, natural hybridization occurs, resulting in plants with intermediate characteristics. They are larger and stronger-growing than true lavender, more tolerant of humidity and yield twice the volume of essential oil compared with true lavender.

Selected hybrids of L x intermedia are the major producers of lavender essential oil worldwide. The oil contains perceptible camphor and is valued at approximately half that of true lavender. It is widely used for personal and household toiletries. Intermedia lavenders may be identified by their paired flowering side branches.

The most popular variety for essential oil production is 'Grosso,' although 'Abrialii,' 'Super,' 'Sumian' and 'Provence' are used, too. The flowers are also dried. Many fine landscape varieties found among the Intermedias include 'Alba,' 'Dutch White,' 'Grappenhall,' 'Hidcote Giant,' 'Impress Purple; 'Seal,' 'Silver Edge' and the double-duty 'Provence.'

Woolly lavender

L lanata has leaves that are heavily felted with hairs, and long spikes of scented flowers. It is very resentful of rain and will not tolerate wet feet. It is best grown in large pots in full sun.

Several hybrids are popular for gardens, including 'Richard Gray,' 'Silver Frost' and 'Sawyers,' which is stronger than the species, with long spikes of bright violet flowers and silver foliage.




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In Europe lavender is harvested from July to September, often by hand.

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In Europe lavender is harvested from July to September, often by hand.

Stoechas lavenders

These lavenders have compressed flower spikes shaped rather like a pineapple surmounted by flag-like sterile bracts. All of them are suited to low-altitude warm-climate gardens, including those near the sea. The Italian or Spanish lavender (L. stoechas) has short flowering stems (peduncles), while Portuguese lavender (L stoechas subsp. pedunculata) is distinguished by long stems.

Excellent varieties include 'Major,' 'Kew Red,' 'Marshwood; 'Somerset Mist; 'Avonview' and 'Butterfly' syn. 'James Compton.' The 'Bee' and 'Bella' series developed by Bob Cherry in New South Wales in Australia and sold worldwide are remarkable breeding breakthroughs.

Green lavender (L viridis) has green foliage, and green inflorescences with cream flowers and green sterile bracts. 'Beverley' differs in having white sterile bracts. Fringed lavender (L dentata) has fragrant inflorescences similar to I stoechas, but the narrow linear leaves are evenly rounded-dentate.

Varieties include 'Ploughman's Blue; the green and cream variegated 'Linda Ligon' and the hybrid 'Goodwin Creek Gray.'

Pterostachys lavenders

These include a number of desirable landscape species, including L buchii, Canary Islands lavender (L canoriensis), jagged lavender (L pinnata), fernleaf lavender (L multifida) and the electric blue-flowered L maroccana.

• Position All lavenders require excellent drainage and full sun. They are better grown fairly hard, and a slow-release fertilizer or a light application of organic compost is recommended. They are all suited to being grown in large pots.

• Propagation Varieties are propagated by cuttings, but species are seed sown in spring.

• Maintenance Prune lavenders annually, preferably in early spring. True and Intermedia lavenders can be shaped during harvesting. Never cut back hard into old wood, or the plants may die.

• Pests and diseases Lavenders are generally free of pests as well as diseases.

• Harvesting and storing Harvest True and Intermedia lavenders in midsummer when spikes are one- to two-thirds open. Tie lavender stems in bunches and hang them upside down to dry; strip them of their flowers. The oil is steam distilled.

Cotton/ tcuj&nder

Also known as santolina, cotton lavender (Santolina chamaecyparissus) has a compact habit that makes it ideal for a low hedge or edging a path. Its gray, toothed aromalic leaves have a similar scent to lavender and are very useful for repelling moths. Add the dried leaves to moth-repellent sachets and place dried bunches with stored blankets and other woollens. Silverfish also hale santolina.

These racks of commercially grown lavender will be dried out of direct sunlight in a dry place.

Continue reading here: Lavender Continued I Herbal medicine

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