Cistaceae: Rock-rose Family

Rock-rose – Cistus incanus

Blooms:

Jan–Aug

Plant Height:

up to 130 cm

Flower Size:

Large

Origin:

Europe

Habitat:

Dry sunny places

Notes:

This cistus is commonly cultivated, and occasionally it escapes and naturalizes.  Like other members of its family, it is drought-tolerant and likes open, sunny positions.  It produces a profusion of short-lived, bright pink flowers with large, more or less wrinkled petals and many yellow stamens.  Leaves are somewhat sage-like (though without the distinctive sage aroma), not sessile, and have one prominent vein from the base.

Sageleaf Rock-rose – Cistus salviifolius

Blooms:

Apr–May

Plant Height:

< 1 m

Flower Size:

Large

Origin:

Southern Europe

Habitat:

Sunny, disturbed places

Notes:

Each stem has 1–4 pure white flowers, sometimes with yellow near the base of the petals, and many yellow stamens.  Leaves are sage-like, 1–4 cm, ovate to elliptic, with the upper surface wrinkled.

Montepelier Rock-rose (Cistus monspeliensis), not shown, is similar.  However, it has more flowers per stem (1–11).  Also, its leaves are linear to lance-linear in shape, and much longer (15–60 cm).

Peak Rush-rose – Crocanthemum scoparium var. scoparium

Blooms:

Mar–July

Plant Height:

10–30 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Dry sandy or rocky slopes or ridges or chaparral below 500 m

Notes:

This is the only native on this page.  It is a bushy, low, spreading plant with many beautiful, bright yellow flowers, each about 1 cm across with 5 to many stamens.  In this genus, 2 of the 5 sepals are narrower than the others.  In this species, the 2 outer sepals are linear, while the 3 inner ones are wide and pointed.  Stems are slender and rush-like, but all bear small, linear to narrowly lanceolate leaves.

There is another variety (var. vulgare), not shown, which is very similar.  However, it is taller (30–45 cm), with more flowers per stem (4–18) and longer outer sepals.  It is found at higher elevations (50–1200 m).