Herb: Cotton Lavender

Latin name: Santolina chamaecyparissus

Synonyms: Santolina incana

Family: Compositae

Medicinal use of Cotton Lavender:

The leaves and flowering tops are antispasmodic, disinfectant, emmenagogue, stimulant and vermifuge. Cotton lavender is rarely used medicinally, though it is sometimes used internally as a vermifuge for children and to treat poor digestion and menstrual problems. When finely ground and applied to insect stings or bites, the plant will immediately ease the pain. Applied to surface wounds, it will hasten the healing process by encouraging the formation of scar tissue. The leaves and flowering stems are harvested in the summer and dried for later use.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

July to


Habitat of the herb:

Dry ground, stony banks and rocks, usually on calcareous soils.

Edible parts of Cotton Lavender:

The aromatic leaves are used as a flavouring for broths, sauces, grain dishes etc.

Other uses of the herb:

Plants can be grown as a low formal hedge and used as an edging plant. The plant is very tolerant of shearing. In less exposed areas the plants can be trimmed in the autumn, otherwise they need to be cut by early April if they are to be allowed to flower. Plants can also be grown for ground cover. They are best spaced about 60cm apart each way. The leaves are strewn amongst clothes to repel moths etc. The growing plant repels various insect pests, especially cabbage moths. The dried leaves are used in pot-pourri. An essential oil from the leaves is used in perfumery, the oil is also obtained from the flowers.

Propagation of Cotton Lavender:

Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. Does not require pre-treatment. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe side shoots, 5 - 8 cm long with a heel, July/August in a frame. Roots within 2 weeks. High percentage. The heeled cuttings can also be placed direct into the open garden in early July and should be well-rooted by the winter. Division in spring or autumn. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer. Layering.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry ground, stony banks and rocks, usually on calcareous soils.

Known hazards of Santolina chamaecyparissus:

The bruised leaves have been known to cause a severe rash on sensitive skins.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.