Cotton lavender

santolina

Common name
Cotton lavender

Scientific name
Santolina chamaecyparissus L.

Botanic family
Asteraceae (sin. Compositae)

 

History and origins

Originates from the Mediterranean area.

Use and properties

Generally the flowering shoots (leaves and flower heads) and seeds of cotton lavender are used for infusions, decoctions or for the extraction of essential oil.
The plant contains an essential oil whose main components are ketone, T-cadinol, camphor, cubenol, borneol, cineole, sesquiterpenes, and tannins.
Cotton lavender has the following properties: digestive, antispasmodic, tonic-stimulant, antiseptic, and worming (using the pulverized seeds); it is also recommended for kidney cleansing, for cases of jaundice, and for the prevention of headaches or neck pain. It is used in many homeopathic remedies for problems such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
For external use it can be used to cleanse the face, to treat minor wounds, to relieve itching from insect bites and against skin infections.

Diffusion and importance

In Italy, cotton lavender grows wild all over, in dry and stony places, in the fallow, amongst the rubble, and up to about 1,000 meters above sea level.

Botanical characteristics

Biologic type: perennial species, evergreen.

Stem:
erect, branched, 30-50 cm tall, woody at the base.

Leaves:
small leaves, narrowly linear, slightly clavate, greyish with silver accents

Inflorescence: small spherical terminal flower heads, with yellow flowers; in Italy, it flowers in approximately June-July; pollination is entomophilous.

Fruit: achene, oblong-conical, 2-3 mm long, brown in color.

santolina-1

Climate and soil requirements

Climate
Cotton lavender prefers temperate climates with sunny exposure (it does not like the shade). It is very resistant to cold (down to -15 ° C) and drought.
Soil
It adapts to different types of soil but prefers soils that are looser, well drained and calcareous; it grows well in well-structured clay soils but dislikes soils which are too compact as they are subject to waterlogging.

Fundamentals of cultivation techniques

Planting
Cotton lavender is propagated using herbaceous cuttings and plant division.
Cuttings of 5-10 cm are taken in late summer from the apex of the stems and transplanted with roots the following spring.
Plant division is done in the spring by using small pieces of root, which have at least one node, and planting them either in seedbeds or directly in the ground.
The planting distance between the rows is 70-80 cm and within the row 50-60 cm, with a density of 2-3 plants per m2.
Cultivation practices
Fertilization is usually only done using mature manure applied during the preparation of the land for planting.
Irrigation is necessary in the summer when there have been long periods of drought; however, it is advisable to leave the soil to dry between irrigations.

Harvesting

The harvest is performed in summer by cutting the apical section composed of the leaves and flower heads which are not yet in bloom.
Dry the leaves in a place that is sheltered from the light, dry and well ventilated.