Spanish Lavender Vs English Lavender: Major Differences

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By Arthur Mbanefo

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Telling apart Spanish lavender from English Lavender can be a HUGE headache. 

These purple bushes almost look alike, with faint differences. 

And if you don’t know the right pick for your garden, this Spanish lavender vs English lavender comparison will help you decide. 

But place them side-by-side, the Spanish have vibrant dark purple pine-cone blossoms with sterile bracts that resemble ears on top. And they are usually upright. 

Meanwhile, the English lavender has soft gray-green foliage of about 1-3 inches, with Short, dense purple flowers. 

You can keep scrolling to know more.

What Is Spanish Lavender? 

Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) is easily recognizable amongst the 40 different varieties of lavenders for its purple pineapples or rabbit ears-like appearance. 

Also, it is more heat-tolerant and deer-resistant but highly toxic to animals. 

Fortunately for us (humans), we can use it to flavor baked goods and savory dishes, but only in moderation. 

It is native to Europe, Africa, and the Mediterranean. And its ornamental value is undeniable due to its showy, pineapple-like shape that can complement any space. 

The flowers comprise a huge central bract encompassed by tiny, petal-like bract that contributes to its beauty. These bracts also come in shades like pink, purple, white, and violet. 

It got this rabbit ears-like appearance from the tuft of tiny petals that prick from the central brack at its tips. 

Don’t worry; you will come to know the amount of sunlight it needs, the soil type, bloom time, and more as we compare both lavenders. But now, we are just keeping it simple. 

What Is An English Lavender?

The English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) isn’t a native to England. There is a preconceived notion it is. 

But that is not true; it is to the Mediterranean like most lavenders. 

Their flower shape is different, too. They are more dense and grow in spike-like clusters on the slender stems. 

Also, the spikes are taller and more cylindrical than most species. It is highly toxic to animals but useful for culinary purposes, whether for flavoring dishes, teas, or baked goods.

English lavender is the most enjoyable and aromatic, with a sweet, floral, and soothing fragrance. This scent multiplies when touched or crushed. 

Spanish Lavender Vs English Lavender

DifferencesEnglish LavenderSpanish Lavender
SpeciesLavandula angustifoliaLavandula stoechas
Alternative Namescommon lavender, True lavender, narrow-leaved lavender, and garden lavenderTopped lavender, and French lavender (UK only)
OriginMediterraneanSpain, France, Portugal, Italy, Greece
SizeHeight – 12 to 24 inchesWidth – 20 to 24 inchesHeight – 12 to 18 inchesWidth – 18 to 24 inches
Flower ColorLight to dark purplePink to purple
Leaves1 – 2.5 inches, narrow, elongated, greyish-green0.4 – 1.4 inches, straight
Flower AppearanceShort, dense flowers, 1 – 3 inch flower spikesDense, cylindrical heads, upright petals
BloomMidsummer for approximately 4 weeksSpring and early summer
Cold ToleranceZones 5 to 8Zones 7 to 9

Spanish Lavender Vs English Lavender: Size

There isn’t much to pick from their appearances since there is a slight difference. 

The English Lavender is 12 to 24 inches tall and 20 to 24 inches wide. Meanwhile, the Spanish variety is only 12 to 18 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide. 

Another subtle difference is in their leaf size. 

Both are evergreen, but Spanish’s greyish-green leaves tend to be smaller. They are straight and narrowed, about 0.4 to 1.4 inches long. 

Whereas the English Lavender reaches up to 1 to 2.5 inches long. They are also straight, elongated leaves. 

Spanish Lavender Vs. English Lavender: Flowers

However, how they produce flowers is where you see some noticeable differences. 

Both Lavender can flower, but the Spanish variant produces theirs on leafless stems. 

They also appear as dense and cylindrical flowerheads with large petals on top in an upright manner. 

Aside from that, the Spanish lavender only blooms with pink to purple flowers in spring and early summer.  

On the other hand, English lavender also produces flowers at the top of leafless stems with spikes about 1 to 3 inches long. 

However, the flowers are much shorter and have broader petals. Their blooms are also loose and open up the spike. 

Unlike the Spanish lavender, the English variant blooms during midsummer with rich light or dark purple flowers and can span four weeks.

Spanish Lavender Vs. English Lavender: Cold Tolerance

Almost all Lavender will thrive in Mediterranean regions, but they are theoretically suited to harsh weather. 

Since English Lavender is probably the hardest, you would expect it to muscle into the cold months. And it can. They are best suited to zones 5 to 8.

However, I wouldn’t put my Spanish lavender in any zone if not 7 and 9. They best thrive in dry,  temperate regions. 

And anything colder than that, it could die. 

Is Lavender A Seductive Scent?

Taking a trip down memory lane before bottled fragrances, Lavender was used to entice men. 

Women would rub it all over their clothes, giving off an erotic scent. 

Research also showed that it increases penile blood flow by 5%. 

However, scent preferences are highly subjective. What you find seductive or alluring, another might not.  

Most people claim Lavender aroma is rather calming and relaxing than seductive.

And aromatherapy proves this point even further by using it to reduce stress and improve sleep in therapy sessions. 

If you want a traditional seductive scent, choose floral fragrances, vanilla, musk, or oriental spices. 

But to many, Lavender has a soothing and tranquil scent. 

What Is The Best Tasting Lavender?

The best-tasting lavender is the Lavandula angustifolia  –English lavender varieties. 

They remain the most popular choice for culinary purposes because of their mild, peppery floral flavor. 

You can use the flower buds, leaves, or stems of the lavender, fresh or dry, on various dishes, including desserts. 

Here are some specifics: 

  • Hidcote (L. angustifolia)
  • Royal Velvet (L. angustifolia)
  • Munstead (L. angustifolia)
  • Buena Vista (L. angustifolia)
  • Melissa (L. angustifolia)
  • Folgate (L. angustifolia)
  • Provence (L. x intermedia)

What Lavender Can You Not Eat?

I’m not sure if any Lavender varieties are toxic. If you have heard of one, please comment down below.

Almost all lavender is edible. However, there are some with extremely high camphor content that makes them distasteful. 

Cooking or baking with this type of lavender often leads to a valley of disappointment since they have a bitter, soapy, or perfumy taste that will overpower the flavors of your meal. 

The Grosso, Edelweiss, or Stoechas varieties are found of this. So take note. 

What Are The Most Fragrant Lavender Types? 

The intensity of the Lavender scent varies from mild to strong fragrance.

But only a few are predominantly known for their highly fragrant traits: 

  • Lavandula angustifolia ‘Folgate’ Lavender
  • Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’ Lavender
  • Lavandula x intermedia ‘Hidcote Giant’ Lavender
  • Lavandula x intermedia ‘Impress Purple’ Lavender
  • Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’  Lavender
  • Lavandula angustifolia ‘Royal Velvet’ Lavender
  • Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’ Lavandin
  • Lavandula x intermedia ‘Provence’ Lavandin
  • Lavandula stoechas (Spanish Lavender)

Mind you, fragrance perception is subjective. What you might find robust, Mr. B might find milder.

 Plus, some factors influence the intensity of the lavender scent –factors like individual plant health, growing conditions, and climate.

Conclusion

As you have seen, both lavender species come with their own distinct characteristics.

And now you know what they look like, their Hardiness and Drought Tolerance, and more, hope you can tell them apart. Also, which is more suitable for your garden?  

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