Fernleaf or Egyptian Lavender (Lavandula multifida)


Today we will be exploring the lovely Lavandula multifida, a Mediterranean native usually seen on the Iberian peninsula, Sicily, and the Canary Islands.  The first classification is attributed to Linnaeus, this plant is also sometimes colloquially known as French Lace.

Sometimes considered a shrub, this is a smaller plant, generally 2 ft / 60 cm tall, and tends to have greyish, wooly stems (6-20 in / 15-50 cm), leading to flower clusters ranging from dark blues to purples that bloom from June to September, attracting butterflies with fragrance and vibrant color.  Leaves are double-pinnate.  These leaves also an oregano-like aroma when crushed and is sometimes added to food for added flavoring and healing qualities.

Like other Lavandula species, L. multifida has been used as an antiseptic, as a culinary herb, and as an aromatic wash, often making use of the plant's natural antiseptic and antibacterial properties.  Oil from the stems is known to assist in the healing of wounds, bruises, and insect bites.  Likewise, the dried flowers are often used as an insect repellent and potpourri sachets.

While L. multifida is hardy and drought-tolerant, fully adapted to Mediterranean (USDA zone 8-11), heat and climatic conditions and living easily as a perennial either in containers or planted ground, if grown in colder climates, it is subject to frost.  In these conditions, the plant should be treated as an annual, unless protected in a temperature-regulated environment like a greenhouse.  They favor well-drained, loamy soils.