With lavender being a flowering plant, it may be difficult for some to ascertain what it truly is. Some wonder if it is a shrub, while others think that it is simply a flowering plant.
In actuality, there are many species of lavender, with some being herbs and some not! A staple in most kitchen gardens, lavender’s status as an herb depends solely on the subspecies and state of the plant.
From its fragrant aroma to the lovely purple (well, lavender!) flowers that it produces, this plant is not only beautiful but useful. Read on to learn more about it.
Lavender: A Lovely Herb… Sometimes?
Lavender, what is it?
As we said earlier, the lavender plant is both an herb as well as a shrubby plant. This is because of the fact that some consider it to be solely a shrub do to its woody stem (in some varieties).
Lavender itself, although most commonly associated with a small, purple-flowered plant, is in fact an entire species of plants. The Lavender species of plant has nearly fifty subspecies under it.
This purple-flowered plant belongs to the family of mint, and you can easily identify it (aside from the flowers) by its very distinct aroma.
With a history spanning centuries, lavender is said to be a native of the western Mediterranean, with it also being credited with origins in the Middle East as well as India.
Back in ancient times, many people used lavender in various recipes, and a large number of them thought of it as holding holy significance.
Aside from its use for religious purposes, the herb was used for giving a pleasant smell to everyday items around the house as well as personal effects such as clothes.
Not only that, but people would use the plant to give their hair and body a pleasing scent.
The plant is perennial, meaning that it will lie dormant and grow back every year. This makes it a flowering plant as well as an herb, at least for most classifications.
It prefers warm conditions, owing to its tropical heritage, and loves being under the sun. It is not a fan of too much humidity, though as it prefers staying dry.
Looking at things in the biological sense, then we can classify lavender as a flowering plant, more specifically a bush, that is to be considered a shrub.
The shrub classification given to lavender is due to the wooden stem that the plant grows, as most herbs have softer, green stems.
When we look at the plant in culinary terms, on the other hand, then it is to be categorized as an herb purely based on its uses for cooking and food preparation.
Aside from these two categorizations, lavender holds yet another term. Due to it being a perennial flower in addition to everything else, some may say that lavender is a flowering plant.
So, with lavender being known as a shrub in the biological sense of the word, and an herb when speaking to a chef or cook, you can see why things are not so cut and dry with this special plant!
With herbal qualities, most people that you talk to and sources you may find will simply list lavender as an herb, due to how commonly it is used.
Although this is technically incorrect because of the common uses of the plant, it is still considered okay to refer to lavender as an herb.
The Interesting Traits of Lavender
With lavender having almost fifty subspecies of plants under its umbrella, with those subspecies having upwards of 450 individual affiliates, there are many different classifications for this plant.
The common lavender that is used by most for cooking and household use can actually be considered as both an herb and a shrub, depending on the state of its stem.
If the stem of the lavender is still soft, green, and springy then it is quite common to see it classified as an herb. This is the form of the herb found in most kitchens and culinary uses.
Meanwhile, if the stem begins to grow woody and stiff, losing its more flower-like qualities, then lavender falls more under the umbrella category of shrubs.
It may be a bit confusing, but that is one of the wonders of lavender as a plant. Its ability to fit into many different classifications and uses makes it quite interesting.
A good number of members that belong to the family of lavender are indeed classified as herbs in spite of the various formal classifications given to the species.
When speaking in terms of cooking and culinary uses, lavender is considered by many as an herb because of the numerous uses that it finds in the kitchen.
Being edible and carrying with it a strong, distinct scent, lend it to being associated with other common herbs used in cooking.
Sharing the same biological family as various other kitchen herbs like rosemary and basil, lavender fits right at home within the classification of herb.
Along with its beauty and use as an herb, lavender also carries with it a number of health benefits. Helping with insomnia and treating blemishes on the skin being just two of many.
This wonderful plant is also capable of treating pain naturally, through aromatherapy. By mixing lavender with oil and water you can help ease pain without the need for medications.
Some other health benefits that lavender holds include reducing one’s blood pressure in addition to possibly helping to relieve symptoms of asthma.
With the number of lavender plants out there and the good amount of health benefits that the plant provides, it is easy to see why so many adore this lovely little plant.
Lavender truly is a wonder plant. With many curious as to what category lavender falls under, whether it be an herb or a shrub, it provides an air of intrigue along with its natural beauty.
From medicinal uses to the very common use as an herb in kitchens around the world, the benefits that the plant hold go beyond the beauty that it brings to the home.
While the classification on whether or not lavender is an herb is a bit cloudy, many do consider it to be one and it finds itself filling the role of an herb in most cases. Aside from that, it is a lovely looking plant that many can cultivate and grow in their own homes!