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Cistus laurifolius L.

Modern name

Cistus laurifolius L.

An evergreen shrub 6 to 8 ft high, with stiff, erect, open branches, hairy and glutinous when young; bark peeling. Leaves ovate to ovate-lanceloate, 112 to 3 in. long, 34 to 112 in. wide; rounded at the base, long and taper-pointed; three-nerved, the margins wavy; dark dull green and glabrous above, pale with a close down beneath, glutinous on both surfaces; stalk hairy, 12 to 34 in. long, the bases of each pair meeting and clasping the stem. Flowers 212 to 3 in. across, white, produced from midsummer onwards in hairy, erect, cymose panicles, 6 to 9 in. high, at the end of short side branches. Sepals three, ovate, pointed, very concave, hairy. Seed-vessel five-valved.

Native of S.W. Europe and the Mediterranean region; introduced in 1731. This is the hardiest and one of the best rock roses. Whilst not so showy as C. × cyprius, and of stiffer habit, it is capable of withstanding more intense cold. At Kew it has survived uninjured 32° of frost. Grown in the mass it makes a bold evergreen group, flowering profusely from June to August. On hot days the leaves and young stems give off a pleasant, aromatic, incense-like perfume. As a flowering evergreen for banks and places too dry for most evergreens it is particularly useful, but is, nevertheless, neglected in gardens. It should be increased by seed, which it produces in plenty.

var. atlanticus Pitard – Native of Morocco. It differs from the type in its smaller leaves and less pointed sepals.

C. × glaucus Pourr. C. × recognitus Rouy & Fouc. – A hybrid between C. laurifolius and C. monspeliensis. A shrub to about 4 ft high with linear-oblong to lanceolate leaves, viscid and dull green above, hairy beneath; flowers white, 112 to 2 in. across in many-flowered clusters. Found wild in the south of France.

C. (laurifolius × palhinhae) ‘Elma’. – A floriferous and fairly hardy hybrid raised by Capt. Collingwood Ingram and given an Award of Merit in 1949. The flowers are numerous on each shoot as in the first parent, pure white and about 312 in. across.



Other species in the genus