Synonyms : Cistus incanus auct, Cistus polymorphus, Cistus villosus creticus.
Habitat :Cistus creticus is native to southern Europe and the area around the eastern Mediterranean, but is naturalized in other areas of the world, such as California. It grows on amongst the scrub and in bushy places on rocks, dry hills etc to 1000 metres.
Cistus creticus is a compact and bushy, evergreen shrub, growin.g to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 1 m (3ft 3in). It is in leaf 12-Jan. It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen in August.The colours of the flowers can vary from rose pink to purple. It prefers a well-drained soil and does best in full sun. All cistus do best if pruned after flowering which will retain shape and provide healthy young growth for next years flowers. The seeds were collected at 2000m if that is relevant. This plant is the source of the resin labdanum – used in perfumes as a replacement for ambergris! Few seeds collected.
The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Requires a sunny position in a dry or moist well-drained light sandy soil. Withstands drought once it is established. Tolerates maritime exposure. Plants are hardy to about -15°c, but they require protection in severe winters. Plants are somewhat hardier when grown in poor soils. This is usually a short-lived plant in cultivation, it probably exhausts itself by its very free-flowering habit. Plants often self-sow when growing in a suitable position. Dislikes pruning or root disturbance. Plants should be pot grown and then planted out in their final positions whilst still small. Individual flowers only last one day but there is a long succession of them. A polymorphic species, some forms do not yield much gum. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus. The flowers are very attractive to bees. The leaves, which exude a balsamic resin, are especially fragrant on warm sunny days.
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 Uses: Condiment; Tea.
The leaves are used as a tea substitute. The oleo-resin obtained from the leaves and stems is used as a commercial food flavouring in baked goods, ice cream, chewing gum etc.
This plant is an aromatic, expectorant, stimulant herb that controls bleeding and has antibiotic effects. It is used internally in the treatment of catarrh and diarrhoea 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[64, 89]. Most resin is produced at the hottest time of the year. There is a mauve-flowered variety of this species that is the most prolific producer of the resin
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
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