is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cistaceae, comprising about 20 species. It is native to the Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Portugal through to the Middle East and the Canary Islands. It is commonly known as Rock Rose
or Sun Rose
Cistus is an evergreen perennial shrub grown for its colorful flowers, borne during early to late summer. The leaves are 2-8 cm long, opposite, simple and rough-surfaced. The leaves of Cistus ladanifer
and Cistus creticus
are coated with a highly aromatic, sticky brown resin called labdanum, which is used in herbal medicine and as a perfume ingredient. The flowers are showy, five-petaled flowers ranging from white to purple and dark pink. In a few species, dark red spots are found at the base of each petal.
Cistus species are the only host for a small parasitic plant called Cytinus hypocistis
. This plant lives on the roots and is noticeable only for a short period of time when in flower, and does not seem to hurt the host population. Cistus species are also food plants for larvae of some Lepidoptera species (Butterflies and Moths) such as Coleophora confluella
and Coleophora helianthemella
is a very variable and widely known ornamental plant, grown for its pink flowers of about 5 cm in diameter. It has several cultivars such as 'Lasithi' which has compact, rounded flowers.
(Gum Rockrose), 2.4 x 1 m high and across, is a shrub native to the western Mediterranean region. It is indigenous to Spain, Portugal and north-west Africa. This species is well-suited to the continentalized Mediterranean climate, can withstand both long summer droughts and cold weather. It is an extremely invasive plant which can take over grasslands and former farmlands in central Spain. In Spain, it is known as Jara pringosa meaning sticky plant. This species has leaves that are lanceolate, 3-10 cm long and 1-2 cm broad, dark green above and paler underneath. In summer, it bears five-petaled white flowers of 5-8 cm in diameter, with a distinctive red to maroon spot at the base of each petal, surrounding the yellow stamens and pistils. It is a popular ornamental plant, grown for its resin-scented foliage and conspicuous white flower. The foliage is coated with a sticky brown resin called labdanum, use as a fixative in perfumes.
(Salvia Cistus) is native to southern Europe and parts of Asia and north Africa. The spreading stems are covered in clumpy hairs. The leaves are green, oval, 1-4 cm long and have light-colored wrinkled edges. The inflorescence holds one or more five-petaled white flowers, with yellow spot at the base of each petal. The stamens are also yellow with the anthers bears abundant yellow pollen. This species is popular with bees.
, 1 m high and across, has dark green leaves with wavy edges. It produces dark pink flowers in summer, each flower is 8 cm across and with a reddish blotch at the base of each petal and a bright yellow center.
'Peggy Sammons', 1 m high and across, has grey-green leaves and pale purple-pink flowers in summer. C.
'Silver Pink', 75 x 90 cm high and across, has dark green leaves and pale pink flowers with golden stamens.
Cistus species are thermpphilous plants, whire require full sun, well-drained, deep, fertile soil. Deadhead regularly to ensure a succession of blooms. The plant is short lived but can be replaced when they get straggly or leggy. It is also ideal to grow in containers. Propagation is by seed in spring or softwood cuttings in summer. Cistus is frost hardy and trouble free with minimal pest and disease.
Victor M. Vicente Selvas
Capsules of Cistus incanus
Montpellier cistus (Cistus monspeliensis)
Cistus x purpureus
Cistus 'Estepa Blanca'