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Cistus albidus L.

Modern name

Cistus albidus L.

A compact, bushy shrub, ultimately 5 or 6 ft high, if it survives long enough; young shoots, leaves, flower-stalks, and sepals covered with a dense, whitish, starry down. Leaves stalkless, oval, oblong or ovate, 34 to 2 in. long, 13 to 34 in. wide, rounded or blunt at the apex, three-nerved at the base, and strongly net-veined beneath. Flowers pale rosy lilac, with a patch of yellow at the base of each petal, about 212 in. across, borne on a stalk 34 to 1 in. long, and crowded three to eight together in a terminal cluster. Sepals five, broadly ovate, 34 to 12 in. long.

Native of S.W. Europe and N. Africa; cultivated in 1640. It is one of the hardier sorts, and will survive all but our hardest winters. The epithet albidus, it should be noted, refers to the foliage, and not to the flowers. It has hybridised with and is closely allied to C. crispus, from which it differs in its flat, not undulated leaves, and its comparatively long-stalked flowers – those of crispus being almost stalkless.

f. alb us (Warb.) Dansereau – A form with pure white flowers found wild with the type.

C. × canescens Sweet – A natural hybrid between C. albidus and C. creticus reported from Algeria but also occurring in gardens among seedlings of C. albidus. Leaves usually greener than in that species, narrower and more pointed. ‘Albus’ was raised by Sir Oscar Warburg from a pink form of C. × canescens which had been raised from seed of C. albidus f. albus.

C. × pulverulentus Pourr. C. × delilei Burnat – A common hybrid between C. albidus and C. crispus found wild where they grow together, e.g. in France and the Iberian peninsula. Intermediate in character between the parents. The garden clone ‘Sunset’ belongs here.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

† C. ‘Peggy Sammons’. – This hybrid is the result of a deliberate cross between C. albidus (seed-parent) and C. laurifolius, made by J. E. Sammons; five plants were raised but only this one was named (The Garden (Journ. R.H.S.), Vol. 106 (1981), p. 474). It is an erect shrub to about 6 ft high, with pale pink flowers and grey-green foliage, and is likely to supersede the old ‘Silver Pink’, which is beginning to lose its vigour.



Other species in the genus