A hybrid between lavender and spike lavender, Iavandin was neither recognized as a discrete plant nor commercially distilled until about 1925. Today more than 1000 metric tons of lavandin oil is distilled annually, primarily in France, compared to approximately 100 metric tons of the oils of each of the parent plants. The most extensively cultivated strains of lavandin are Abrialis and Super, although some Maime and Gros Bleu are also grown for essential oil production. Recently a fertile hybrid was discovered, but to date no commercial plantings have been reported, Despite its obvious importance to perfumery and its standing as one of the worlds most important essential oils, relatively little has been written about lavandin oil or the evaluation of its quality.
The most definitive work to appear on this subject is included in “Etudes sur la Iavande,” which has been serialized in the Roure Bertrand Dupont publication Recherches. In addition to scholarly and informative discussions concerning cultivation, ecology, quality zones, and crop failure, Vinot and Bouscary examined in detail the distinction between lavender and the different varieties of lavandin as portrayed by their optical activity. The mean values set forth in Table I were compiled from this work.
In 1900 the Essential Oil Association published physical and chemical specifications for lavandin Abrialis, portions of which appear in Table 11.