Latin Name: Lavandula stoechas
Alternative Name(s): Bush lavender, French lavender, Italian Lavender, Spanish lavender
Known Hazards: None known.
Habitat: Dry hills, garigue and open woods on limestone and granite soils.
Edibility Rating: 1 (1-5)
Medicinal Rating: 2 (1-5)
Physical Characteristics: Topped lavender is a small upright shrub to 1m high. The opposite leaves are downy, grayish-green and fragrant. Flowers are deep purple and fragrant in cylindrical heads topped with a few distinctive violet bracts. It is in leaf all year, in flower from November to February and abundant seeds are produced in late spring and early summer. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Dispersal: Seed is spread by wind and water.
Antiasthmatic; Antiseptic; Antispasmodic; Digestive; Expectorant. Topped lavender has similar medicinal properties to common lavender (L. angustifolia). It yields more essential oil than that species but is of inferior quality. The flowers, and the essential oil derived from them, are antiasthmatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, digestive and expectorant. It is used internally to alleviate nausea. Externally, the essential oil is used as an antiseptic wash for wounds, ulcers, sores etc and as a relaxing oil for massage.
Essential; Incense; Pot-pourri; Repellent. An essential oil is obtained from the flowers – used in soap making, perfumery, medicinally etc. When growing the plant for its essential oil content, it is best to harvest the flowering stems as soon as the flowers have faded. The aromatic leaves and flowers are used in pot-pourri, as an insect repellent in the linen cupboard etc. They are also used as a strewing herb in churches etc. The flowering stems, once the flowers have been removed for use in pot-pourri etc, can be tied in small bundles and burnt as incense sticks.
Notes: Topped lavender has been in cultivation in Australia since 1857 and was recorded in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens in 1858. It appears in Victorian nursery catalogues in the 1870s. It is naturalised in Victoria and South Australia and on the Mt Stromlo Observatory site in Canberra before the 2003 bushfires. It has been declared a noxious weed in parts of Victoria.