An evergreen bush of erect, open habit about 18 in. high, with the general aspect of a small rosemary; young branches viscid and downy. Leaves linear, viscid when young; stalkless, 1⁄2 to 11⁄4 in. long, 1⁄12- to 1⁄8 in. wide; dark glossy green above, white with down beneath. Racemes erect, 4 to 6 in. high, with the flowers arranged at intervals in whorls, and terminating in a six- or eight-flowered umbel at the top. Flowers white, 3⁄4 in. across, the petals inversely heart-shaped, with a yellow stain near the base. Sepals three, ovate, more or less hairy. Bot. Mag., t. 9141.
Native of the Mediterranean region; introduced in 1731. This is a distinct and very pretty shrub.
H. umbellatum is a somewhat variable species but cannot be subdivided into clear-cut categories. The inflorescence may consist of several whorls as in the plant described above, or of a single terminal cyme which is sometimes accompanied by two opposite flowers or reduced cymes in the upper leaf-axils. There is also variation in habit from spreading to erect, and in the degree of viscidness of the stems and leaves. H. viscosum (Willk.) Silva and H. verticillatum (Brot.) Sennen are both part of H. umbellatum in the broad sense.
A halimium found in Syria and Palestine, named H. syriacum by Boissier, is of procumbent habit with tortuous whitish or greyish branches marked by black, densely set, annular leaf scars. This belongs to H. umbellatum and is scarcely worthy of recognition even as a variety. Similar plants occur in France.
H. commutatum Pau H. libanotis Lange, in part; Helianthemum libanotis Willd., in part; not Cistus libanotis L. – A low-growing shrub usually under 2 ft high. Leaves linear, with revolute margins, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. long, 1⁄16 to 3⁄16 in. wide, glabrous above, white-hairy beneath. Flowers solitary or in few-flowered cymes, yellow, about 1 in. wide; sepals three, glabrous. Native of Portugal, W. Morocco, and S. Spain. It is a pretty, free-flowering shrub, but not reliably hardy.