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Botanical Name : Cistus ladanifer
Species: C. ladanifer
Synonyms : Cistus ladaniferus.
Habitat : Cistus ladanifer is a native of the western Mediterranean region. It is indigenous to Spain, Portugal and north-west Africa. It grows on the pine woods, copses and on dry usually granitic hills.
Cistus ladanifer is an evergreen shrub growing 1-2.5 m tall and wide. The leaves are evergreen, lanceolate, 3–10 cm long and 1–2 cm broad, dark green above and paler underneath. The flowers are 5–8 cm diameter, with 5 papery white petals, usually with a red to maroon spot at the base, surrounding the yellow stamens and pistils. The whole plant is covered with the sticky exudate of fragrant resin.
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Cistus ladanifer is particularly well suited to the Continentalized Mediterranean climate, standing both long summer droughts and cold weather. It is an extremely aggressive plant which has taken over much of former farmland and grasslands in the mountain regions of central Spain. In Spanish it is known as Jara pringosa meaning “sticky shrub”. C. ladanifer has been found to have mycorrhizal associations with Boletus edulis, Boletus rhodoxanthus, and Laccaria laccata.
Requires a sunny position in a well-drained light sandy soil, growing well in poor soils. Withstands drought once it is established. Plants are fairly wind resistant, tolerating maritime exposure. Resents root disturbance. Plants are hardy to about -10c, but they require protection in severe winters. Plants are somewhat hardier when grown in poor soils. Individual flowers only last one day but there is a long succession of them. Labdanum dislikes pruning, especially as it gets older and so any formative work should be restricted to removing dead, straggly or damaged growths. The plant also resents root disturbance. Plants should be pot grown and then planted out in their final positions whilst still small. Sometimes cultivated for its gum, which is known as ‘Labdanum’, this is exuded in such quantity in hot weather that the plant becomes very sticky. The leaves have glandular hairs which produce an aromatic gum. The sweet balsamic smell is most apparent in the summer in the early morning. A very ornamental plant, it is very free-flowering and fast growing. There are a number of named forms developed for their ornamental value. An excellent nurse plant for sheltering young seedlings. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus. The flowers are very attractive to bees. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus.
Seed – gather when ripe and store dry. Surface sow in late winter in a greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 4 weeks at 20°c. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle into individual pots. Grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter and plant them out the in the following spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seed stores for at least 3 years. Cuttings of softish to half-ripe wood, 8cm long with a heel or at a node, June/August in a frame. Roots are formed within 3 weeks. High percentage. Cuttings of almost mature wood, 8 – 12cm with a heel or at a node, September/October in a frame. High percentage. Lift and pot up in the spring, plant out when a good root system has formed. Layering in spring.
Edible Parts: Manna; Seed.
Edible Uses: Condiment; Gum.
Seed – ground into a powder and used with cereal flours in making cakes and breads. An oleo-resin obtained from the leaves and stems is eaten raw or used as a commercial food flavouring in baked goods, ice cream, chewing gum etc. The plant is said to yield a sweet manna.This report is probably referring to the oleo-resin mentioned above.
Labdanum is an aromatic, expectorant, stimulant herb that controls bleeding and has antibiotic effects. It is used internally in the treatment of catarrh and diarrhea and as an emmenagogue. The leaves are harvested in late spring and early summer and can be dried for later use, or the resin extracted from them.
Other Uses: The glandular hairs on the leaves yield the oleo-resin ‘ladanum’, used medicinally and in soaps, perfumery, fumigation etc. This resin is an acceptable substitute for ambergris (which is obtained from the sperm whale) and so is important in perfume manufacture. The resin is collected by dragging a type of rake through the plant, the resin adhering to the teeth of the rake, or by boiling the twigs and skimming off the resin. Most resin is produced at the hottest time of the year.
It is a popular ornamental plant, grown for its strongly resin-scented foliage and conspicuous flowers. Its leaves yield a fragrant oleoresin known as labdanum, used in perfumes, especially as a fixative.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
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