The earliest recorded use of lavender for medical purposes dates back 3000 years. In 1923, urns with traces of lavender fragrance were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. Greeks, Egyptians, Phoenicians and Arabs used the aromatic plant to prepare perfumes. Lavender was an important ingredient for mummification process in ancient Egypt. Lavender oil was used only by the aristocracy or priests of highest rank for preparation of cosmetic products, massage oils and special ointments.
The Romans were the ones to name the lilac fragrant plant. The name derives from the Latin verb "lavare", which literally means "to wash" or a "bathtub" in combination with "livendulo", which stands for "blueish". Greeks referred to the pretty flower as "nardus", originating from the ancient Syrian word "naardus".
Arabs were likely the first to cultivate the plant, and later on, use of the herb started spreading in Europe through Greece.
Bulgaria has always kept high standards in growing essential oil crops and producing high-quality rose and lavender essential oils. Our country's unique natural assets, together with our people's rich traditions in the field, put Bulgaria among the top countries for essential oil production.
Nowadays lavender’s large-scale use is due very much to the precious oil extracted from its fragrant blossoms. Lavender oil is widely used in many industries such as perfumery, cosmetics, aromatherapy and medicine.
The charming lilac plant has become a favourite herb of many households and is highly valued not only because of its healing properties, but also for its beauty and fragrance. Lavender is also a part of people's spiritual world - considered to have good impact on love life, it purifies the body and soul as it also improves sleep. The herb is very useful for reducing anxiety and emotional stress.
The plant belongs to the Lavandula genus in the Lamiacae family. The most popular cultivated members of its genus are as follows:
Two less common lavender types are:
The plant's roots are strongly developed, as they can reach four meters in depth. This feature makes the herb drought resistant and suitable for soil consolidation. Lavender's aerial part is a hemispheric-shaped tufa with a diameter reaching 60 cm with Vera lavender and up to 1 meter with Spike and Hybrid lavender. Vera lavender is famous for its silvery green leaves, while Spike lavender's rather whitish leaves are distinguished by a hairy surface. Lavender is an evergreen plant. Blooms are held up on long stems grouped into spike inflorescences. Lavender blooms are usually little and coloured in white, purple, blue, violet or lilac. Blooming starts at the end of July and usually lasts for a month.
The plant is drought tolerant, cold hardy and is not affected by soil fertility. However, it demands a lot of light, but this does not pose a problem for Bulgarian geography.
The sunnier it is, the more essential oil is extracted from the lavender blossom.