Lavender History and Lore
Books like "The Book of Herb Lore" by Lady Rosalind Northcote, with its historical and literary references, add another dimension to the herb-keeping hobby. Lavender is one herb with a rich and colorful history to draw from.
Have a seat and let's take a look at some interesting lavender lore from around the world:
Where Did Lavender Originate?
Lavender, a staple of the English countryside, is not native to England. Originating in the coastal hills of the Mediterranean, lavender was probably spread throughout Europe by the Romans.
Where Does the Word Lavender Come From?
This is an easy one: From the Latin word lavare, lavender was named by the Romans, who used it in their famous baths. Lavare literally means "to wash."
Why Was Lavender a Popular Anti-Plague Herb?
A natural bug repellent, lavender was used extensively in the Middle Ages as an anti-plague herb. It was effective because it successfully repelled the fleas that carried the disease. It was one of the essential herbs in traditional Four Thieves Vinegar.
Lavender and French Perfume
Lavender was an important ingredient in the beginnings of the perfume industry in France, but French lavender (Lavendula dententa) is not the fragrant perfume variety of lavender. That award goes to Spanish lavender (Lavendual stoechus).
How Many Varieties of Lavender Are there?
The history of lavender can be traced back 2500 years, and there are now over 115 varieties of lavender cultivated around the world. They are primarily derived from basic English, French or Spanish lavender.
Lavender and the Evil Eye
At one time, Christians believed that lavender placed at the entrance of a home or in a keyhole would repel ghosts and protect against the evil eye. That reputation as a talisman against evil extended to lavender being a popular herb for festivals like the St. John's Day Festival.
Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and Lavender
It was long believed that Cleopatra's secret weapon -- in love -- was lavender. She is said to have seduced both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony with its sultry scent. The asp that killed her may have been hiding in one of her lavender bushes.
For more information on lavender, visit my lavender page:
Labels: Photo Courtesy of Morguefile