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Santolina chamaecyparissus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asteraceae (Daisy)
Also in this family:
Alpine Blue Sow-thistle, Alpine Cotula, Alpine Fleabane, Alpine Saw-wort, Annual Ragweed, Annual Sunflower, Argentine Fleabane, Autumn Hawkbit, Autumn Oxeye, Beaked Hawksbeard, Beggarticks, Bilbao Fleabane, Black Knapweed, Black-eyed Susan, Blanketflower, Blue Fleabane, Blue Globe-thistle, Bristly Oxtongue, Broad-leaved Cudweed, Broad-leaved Ragwort, Brown Knapweed, Butterbur, Buttonweed, Cabbage Thistle, Canadian Fleabane, Canadian Goldenrod, Carline Thistle, Chalk Knapweed, Chamois Ragwort, Changing Michaelmas Daisy, Chicory, Chinese Mugwort, Chinese Ragwort, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Sow-thistle, Common Cat's-ear, Common Cudweed, Common Daisy, Common Dandelion, Common Fleabane, Common Goldenrod, Common Groundsel, Common Michaelmas Daisy, Common Mugwort, Common Ragwort, Common Wormwood, Coneflower, Confused Michaelmas Daisy, Corn Chamomile, Corn Marigold, Cornflower, Cotton Thistle, Cottonweed, Creeping Thistle, Daisy Bush, Dwarf Cudweed, Dwarf Thistle, Early Goldenrod, Eastern Groundsel, Eastern Leopardsbane, Elecampane, English Hawkweed, Fen Ragwort, Feverfew, Field Fleawort, Field Wormwood, Fox and Cubs, French Tarragon, Gallant Soldier, Garden Lettuce, Giant Butterbur, Glabrous-headed Hawkweed, Glandular Globe-thistle, Glaucous Michaelmas Daisy, Globe Artichoke, Globe-thistle, Goat's Beard, Golden Ragwort, Golden Samphire, Goldilocks Aster, Grass-leaved Goldenrod, Great Lettuce, Greater Burdock, Greater Knapweed, Grey-headed Hawkweed, Guernsey Fleabane, Hairless Blue Sow-thistle, Hairless Leptinella, Hairy Michaelmas Daisy, Harpur Crewe's Leopardsbane, Hawkweed Oxtongue, Heath Cudweed, Heath Groundsel, Hemp Agrimony, Highland Cudweed, Hoary Mugwort, Hoary Ragwort, Hybrid Knapweed, Intermediate Burdock, Irish Fleabane, Jersey Cudweed, Jerusalem Artichoke, Lance-leaved Hawkweed, Leafless Hawksbeard, Least Lettuce, Leopardplant, Leopardsbane, Leptinella, Lesser Burdock, Lesser Hawkbit, Lesser Sunflower, London Bur-marigold, Magellan Ragwort, Marsh Cudweed, Marsh Hawksbeard, Marsh Ragwort, Marsh Sow-thistle, Marsh Thistle, Meadow Thistle, Melancholy Thistle, Mexican Fleabane, Milk Thistle, Mountain Everlasting, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Musk Thistle, Narrow-leaved Cudweed, Narrow-leaved Hawkweed, Narrow-leaved Michaelmas Daisy, Narrow-leaved Ragwort, New England Hawkweed, New Zealand Holly, Nipplewort, Nodding Bur-marigold, Northern Hawksbeard, Norwegian Mugwort, Oxeye Daisy, Oxford Ragwort, Pearly Everlasting, Perennial Cornflower, Perennial Ragweed, Perennial Sow-thistle, Perennial Sunflower, Pineapple Mayweed, Plantain-leaved Leopardsbane, Ploughman's Spikenard, Plymouth Thistle, Pontic Blue Sow-thistle, Pot Marigold, Prickly Lettuce, Prickly Sow-thistle, Purple Coltsfoot, Rayed Tansy, Red Star Thistle, Red-seeded Dandelion, Red-tipped Cudweed, Robin's Plantain, Roman Chamomile, Rough Cocklebur, Rough Hawkbit, Rough Hawksbeard, Russian Lettuce, Safflower, Salsify, Saw-wort, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Sea Aster, Sea Mayweed, Sea Wormwood, Seaside Daisy, Shaggy Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shaggy Soldier, Shasta Daisy, Shetland Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shrub Ragwort, Sicilian Chamomile, Silver Ragwort, Slender Mugwort, Slender Thistle, Small Cudweed, Small Fleabane, Smooth Cat's-ear, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sow-thistle, Sneezeweed, Sneezewort, Spear Thistle, Spotted Cat's-ear, Spotted Hawkweed, Sticky Groundsel, Stinking Chamomile, Stinking Hawksbeard, Tall Fleabane, Tall Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Tansy, Thin-leaved Sunflower, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tuberous Thistle, Tyneside Leopardplant, Viper's Grass, Wall Lettuce, Welsh Groundsel, Welted Thistle, White Butterbur, White Buttons, Willdenow's Leopardsbane, Winter Heliotrope, Wood Burdock, Wood Ragwort, Woody Fleabane, Woolly Thistle, Yarrow, Yellow Chamomile, Yellow Fox and Cubs, Yellow Oxeye, Yellow Star Thistle, Yellow Thistle, York Groundsel
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Beaches, gardens, parks, rocky places, sand dunes, seaside, wasteland.

Yellow, no petals
Lavender-cotton, scientifically known as Santolina chamaecyparissus, is a charming herbaceous perennial plant native to the Mediterranean region. Its finely-cut, grey-green leaves and bright yellow, button-like flowers make it a popular choice for ornamental gardens in the United Kingdom. The flowers are small and spherical, creating a delightful contrast against the foliage. Lavender-cotton is cherished for its ability to thrive in dry, sunny conditions, making it a valuable addition to British gardens seeking low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants.
Lavender-cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus) is primarily grown for its attractive foliage and aromatic qualities, and it does not produce edible fruit. The plant's small, button-like yellow flowers, when in bloom, create visual appeal, but they do not yield any fruit. Instead, the focus of this plant's appeal lies in its aromatic leaves and its ability to thrive in ornamental gardens, particularly in the United Kingdom, where its grey-green foliage and yellow flowers are appreciated for their aesthetic qualities.
The leaves of Lavender-cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus) are finely cut and have a distinctive grey-green color. They are small, narrow, and feathery in appearance, giving the plant an elegant and delicate look. These aromatic leaves are known for their fragrance and are a key feature of Lavender-cotton, making it a sought-after ornamental plant. The leaves are typically evergreen, contributing to the plant's year-round visual appeal in gardens and landscapes.
The aroma of Lavender-cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus) is characterized by a pleasant and aromatic fragrance. The leaves of this plant emit a soothing, herbal scent with subtle hints of earthiness and a mild, floral undertone. The aroma is often described as fresh and calming, making it a popular choice for ornamental gardens and landscapes, where the fragrance can be enjoyed as a sensory delight. While not as intense as some other aromatic herbs, Lavender-cotton's gentle fragrance adds a touch of tranquility to outdoor spaces.
Other Names:
Cotton Lavender, French Lavender, Grey-leaf Santolina, Ground Cypress, Lavender Cotton.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Santolina chamaecyparissus, also known as cotton lavender or lavender cotton, is a species of perennial herb in the Asteraceae family. It is native to the Mediterranean region, but it is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in many other parts of the world. The plant has small, gray-green leaves and produces yellow button-like flowers in the summer. The plant has a strong and pungent scent, similar to that of lavender, hence the common name "cotton lavender." It is commonly used as an ornamental plant in herb gardens, rock gardens and as a groundcover. It is drought tolerant and can be grown in well-drained soils. It can be also used as a dried flower for floral arrangements and potpourri. The plant is toxic if ingested, and it can cause skin irritation.


Lavender-cotton, also known as Santolina chamaecyparissus, is a popular herb with a distinct, aromatic scent. It is commonly used for both medicinal and ornamental purposes, and has been in use for centuries. In this blog, we will take a closer look at this versatile plant, its history, uses, and how to grow it.

History and Origins of Lavender-Cotton

Lavender-cotton is native to the Mediterranean region, where it has been cultivated for centuries for its various medicinal properties. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it for its antiseptic and digestive benefits, and it was also believed to have insect-repelling properties. It was even used to make garlands and wreaths for decoration.

Over time, lavender-cotton has spread to other parts of the world, including North America and Australia, where it is now commonly grown for its ornamental properties.

Appearance and Characteristics

Lavender-cotton is a low-growing, evergreen shrub that typically reaches a height of 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 cm) and a spread of 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 cm). It has silver-gray leaves that are finely divided and resemble needles or feathers. The leaves are highly aromatic, with a pleasant, pungent scent.

In the summer, lavender-cotton produces small, yellow, button-like flowers that are arranged in clusters at the tips of the stems. The flowers are not particularly showy, but they do add a nice touch of color to the garden.

Uses of Lavender-Cotton

Lavender-cotton is a versatile herb that is used for both medicinal and ornamental purposes.

Medicinal Uses: Lavender-cotton is believed to have a number of medicinal properties. It is used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including indigestion, colds, and respiratory infections. It is also believed to have antiseptic, antifungal, and insect-repelling properties.

Ornamental Uses: Lavender-cotton is a popular choice for gardeners who want to add a touch of texture and fragrance to their gardens. It is often used as a low hedge or border plant, and its silver-gray leaves provide a nice contrast to other plants. It is also a good choice for rock gardens and container gardens.

How to Grow Lavender-Cotton

Lavender-cotton is a relatively easy plant to grow, as long as you provide it with the right conditions.

Light: Lavender-cotton prefers full sun, but it can also tolerate partial shade.

Soil: Lavender-cotton prefers well-draining soil that is not too rich. It can tolerate poor soil, but it will not thrive in heavy clay or overly fertile soil.

Water: Lavender-cotton is drought-tolerant once established, but it prefers regular watering during the growing season.

Pruning: Lavender-cotton benefits from regular pruning to maintain its shape and encourage bushy growth. Prune in the spring after the last frost.

Propagation: Lavender-cotton can be propagated from seed or by taking cuttings in the spring.

Varieties of Lavender-Cotton

There are several different varieties of lavender-cotton available, each with slightly different characteristics. Some popular varieties include:

  • 'Lemon Queen': This variety has lemon-scented leaves and produces bright yellow flowers.

  • 'Nana': This dwarf variety has a compact, rounded growth habit and small, silver-gray leaves.

  • 'Green Supreme': This variety has bright green leaves and produces yellow-green flowers.

  • 'Small-Ness': This variety is even smaller than 'Nana', with tiny, silver-gray leaves.

Uses in Aromatherapy

Lavender-cotton has a strong, pungent scent that is often used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation and relieve stress. It can be used in essential oil blends, added to bath products, or used in sachets or potpourri.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

While lavender-cotton is generally considered safe, there are some potential side effects and precautions to be aware of. Some people may experience skin irritation or allergic reactions when handling the plant or using products made from it. It is also important to note that the plant contains compounds that can be toxic in large quantities, so it should not be ingested in large amounts. As with any medicinal herb, it is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider before using it for medicinal purposes.

Growing Lavender-Cotton from Seed

Lavender-cotton can be grown from seed, but it can be a slow process. The seeds need to be stratified (exposed to cold temperatures) before planting to encourage germination. To stratify the seeds, place them in a plastic bag with some damp sand or vermiculite and refrigerate for 4-6 weeks before planting. Sow the seeds in well-draining soil in the spring and keep them moist until they germinate.

Maintaining Lavender-Cotton

Once established, lavender-cotton is a low-maintenance plant. Here are some tips for keeping it healthy:

  • Water: Water regularly during the growing season, but be careful not to overwater, as lavender-cotton does not like to sit in wet soil.

  • Fertilizer: Lavender-cotton does not require fertilizer, but you can apply a slow-release, balanced fertilizer in the spring if desired.

  • Pruning: Prune lavender-cotton in the spring to maintain its shape and encourage bushy growth. You can also pinch back the tips of the stems throughout the growing season to encourage branching.

  • Pest and Disease Control: Lavender-cotton is generally pest and disease resistant, but it can be susceptible to root rot if grown in wet soil. To prevent root rot, make sure the soil is well-draining and avoid overwatering.

Harvesting and Using Lavender-Cotton

The leaves of lavender-cotton can be harvested at any time and used fresh or dried. To dry the leaves, hang them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight until they are crispy. The dried leaves can be used to make tea, infused in oil for use in skin care products, or added to potpourri or sachets.

In conclusion, lavender-cotton is a versatile and useful plant that is easy to grow and maintain. Whether you want to use it for its medicinal properties or simply enjoy its attractive foliage and scent, it is a great addition to any garden. With a little bit of care and attention, you can enjoy the many benefits of lavender-cotton for years to come.


Lavender-cotton filmed at Lytham, Lancashire on the 12th June 2023.


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