Overview

There are hundreds of types of lavender under the genus lavandula.  Therefore, it can be confusing to know what types of lavender are edible.  Furthermore, what type of lavender tastes best?  We are here to help you figure out which lavender is most edible and best for culinary purposes.  

In the genus lavandula, there are 47 species.  Each of those species contain many different cultivars.  For example, the species Lavandula Angustifolia has close to 100 cultivars.  Lavenders from some species can taste soapy or like camphor.  While others, the ones we suggest, taste sweet and floral adding subtle character and depth to sweet and savory dishes alike.  

Most lavender purchased today comes from one of two species.  The first is Lavandula X Intermedia.  This species is often referred to as lavandin or French lavender in the United States.  In other countries it may be referred to as something else.  Lavandula X Intermedia is a hybrid lavender of Lavandula Angustifolia and Lavandula Latifolia.  The species Lavandula Latifolia is a very camphorous lavender, in fact many painters use it as a less toxic alternative to turpentine.  Thus, the Lavandula X Intermedia also carries a camphorous scent although it is not as strong as Latifolia lavender.    

Lemon Lavender Cupcakes
Lemon Lavender Cupcakes

Lavender Varieties

Most lavender purchased commercially today comes from one of two species.  The first is Lavandula X Intermedia.  This species is often referred to as lavandin or French lavender in the United States.  In other countries it may be referred to as something else.  Lavandula X Intermedia is a hybrid lavender of Lavandula Angustifolia and Lavandula Latifolia.  The species Lavandula Latifolia is a very camphorous lavender, in fact many painters use it as a less toxic alternative to turpentine.  Thus, the Lavandula X Intermedia also carries a camphorous scent although it is not as strong as Latifolia lavender.   Thus, varieties in the species Lavandula X Intermedia are not often considered edible lavender.  There are a few varieties like the cultivar Provence that people use for culinary situations because it is fairly low in camphor.  However, in general Lavandula X Intermedia AKA Lavandin AKA French lavender is not typically use to cook with.

Grosso lavender fields
Lavandin Lavender in Bloom

Lavender Varieties that are Edible

The other species of lavender that is most common is Lavandula Angustifolia.  AKA True Lavender AKA English Lavender.  The great thing about English Lavender is every variety can be used for cooking.  Some varieties are more sought after than others, but all varieties are considered edible lavenders.  Our angustifolia lavender buds can be used for culinary purposes and have a blend of Royal Velvet and Folgate cultivars of lavender.  Bothe varieties are highly sought after in the culinary world, and this blend makes a great treat for all sorts of dishes.  Our personal favorite lavender recipes are lavender lemonade and lavender jalapeno limeade.  We also love lavender shortbread cookies.    You can check out all of our culinary treats here like our Cooking with Lavender Book by Nancy Baggett.  

Angustifolia Lavender
Dried Angustifolia Lavender

Can I tell These Lavenders Apart?

Most of the time it is quite easy to tell lavandin lavenders apart from true lavender.  First, lavandins tend to be longer stemmed 18-24 inches in length.  They also tend to have a strong camphor smell (vick vapor rub has a strong camphor smell for reference).  Also, lavandins tend to be more of a grayish purple, although there are exceptions to this.  A couple varieties are quite deep purple and look similar to true lavender.  However, Lavandula Angustifolia or true lavender is shorter stemmed (12-16″ typically), very sweet smelling, and very deep purple sometimes almost blue.  Lastly, there are white lavenders in both species which can make this a little confusing.  However, most lavenders are a shade of purple

lavender grosso bud
Dried Lavandin Lavender

What is Lavandin Used For if I can't Eat it?

Lavandins are primarily used for dried lavender products like sachets, eye pillows, neck pillows, and anything you want to smell nice.  Lavandins tend to produce more essential oil than true lavenders.  Thus, lavandins are very strong smells and useful in a variety of products.  

Lavender Sachet Kit
Lavender Sachets