A shrub 4 to 6 ft high in the wild; young stems clad with short hairs and with a more persistent coating of whitish scales. Leaves scaly and silvery on both sides, those on the non-flowering shoots stalked, pinnately veined, elliptic to broadly so, 3⁄4 to 2 in. long; leaves immediately below the flowering stems sessile, oblong, cordate at the base, with three or five more or less parallel veins. Flowering stems leafless, rigid, up to 8 in. or more long, with conspicuous, long, spreading, often purplish hairs and a dense coating of short, whitish, matted hairs; cymes rather sparsely arranged, with two to eight flowers, which are 11⁄2 to 13⁄4 in. across; petals bright yellow, unmarked or with a brown spot at the base; sepals three, hairy, not scaly.
A native of central and south Spain and of Morocco. The date of introduction is not certain, but the plant cultivated by Philip Miller and described by him under the name Cistus halimifolius sounds more like H. atriplicifolium than H. halimifolium (Gard. Diet. (1768), under ‘The seventeenth sort’). According to Loudon there was an introduction in 1826, but Sweet could not find a plant and the species is consequently not figured in his Cistineae (1830). Although the finest of the halimiums it is also the most tender and the rarest in gardens. It is only likely to be confused with H. halimifolium, but in that species the flowering stems are scaly and lack the spreading hairs seen in H. atriplicifolium; also, its calyx is scaly and has two linear outer sepals, lacking in H. atriplicifolium. Some authorities state that this species always has the petals spotted at the base, but there is an excellent flowering specimen in the Kew Herbarium in which the petals are unmarked, and another, from the Ronda-Marbella road, which, according to the field-note, had pure yellow petals.