Botanist's Glossary

Cistus, Rockrose - Cistus ladanifer

  • Description
    • The cistus (Cistaceae family) is a shrub that reaches a height of 2 to 3 meters and has a strong balsamic scent. It grows in the siliceous scrubland of the Mediterranean, and particularly in the Iberian Peninsula. In France, it is found in the Esterel region. It has long, narrow, evergreen, glossy leaves that have a sticky resinous substance on the top and are downy on the underside. Its beautiful, white, single flowers, which often have a red blotch at the base of the petals, explain why the cistus has a place in Mediterranean gardens.
  • Traditions
    • The resin ("labdanum") from the cistus shrub gives the leaves excellent antiseptic, healing and regenerating properties. In the past, the leaves were used in traditional medicine to treat wounds, ulcers, burns and toothache and also taken internally for respiratory conditions.
  • Properties
    • Distilled by the perfumers of Grasse, these shrubs exude a resin, labdanum, with an intense amber scent, which gives perfumes strength and sensuality. The warm, enveloping scent of the rockrose casts a spell with its oriental, amber and woody notes.