Pulchritude: Lavender

Butterfly on Lavender shrub

Popularly known for its fragrance, Lavender is also used in ‘herbes de Provence’ for culinary purposes, medicines, and is the inspiration for the color of its namesake.  Lavender is a woody shrub in the mint family whose flowers grow in whorls (grows in circles) and are typically lilac, blue, or violet depending on species.  39 species comprise the Lavandula genus, which are native to north and east Africa, the Mediterranean and Canary Islands, southwest Asia, southeast India, and Cape Verde.  The most commonly cultivated species of lavender is Lavandula angustifolia, which is native to the western Mediterranean and grows to between 3.3 and 6.6 feet tall.  Lavender is believed to treat a variety of neurological disorders, and bees fed on lavender plants produce honey that is very effective in healing wounds.  Lavender was coveted during biblical times.  The use of lavender to aid in relaxation and alleviating anxiety dates back to ancient Greece, where dried and crushed lavender was burned for its relaxing fumes.

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