Cistus monspeliensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Cistaceae
Genus: Cistus

See text

Cistus (from the Greek "Kistos") is a genus of flowering plants in the rockrose family Cistaceae, containing about 20 species (Ellul et al. 2002). They are perennial shrubs found on dry or rocky soils throughout the Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Portugal through to the Middle East, and also on the Canary Islands. The leaves are evergreen, opposite, simple, usually slightly rough-surfaced, 2–8 cm long; in a few species (notably C. ladanifer), the leaves are coated with a highly aromatic resin called labdanum. They have showy 5-petaled flowers ranging from white to purple and dark pink, in a few species with a conspicuous dark red spot at the base of each petal., and together with its many hybrids and cultivars is commonly encountered as a garden flower.

The common name rockrose is applied to the species, a name also shared by the related genera Halimium, Helianthemum and Tuberaria, all in the family Cistaceae.



There are about 20 species in the genus:

  • Cistus albanicus
  • Cistus albidus
  • Cistus chinamadensis
  • Cistus clusii
  • Cistus creticus
  • Cistus crispus
  • Cistus heterophyllus
  • Cistus incanus
  • Cistus ladanifer – Gum Rockrose
  • Cistus laurifolius
  • Cistus libanotis
  • Cistus monspeliensis – Montpelier Cistus
  • Cistus munbyi
  • Cistus osbeckiaefolius
  • Cistus parviflorus
  • Cistus populifolius
  • Cistus psilosepalus
  • Cistus salviifolius – Salvia Cistus
  • Cistus symphytifolius
  • Cistus varius


They are thermophilous plants, which require open, sunny places. This plant genus is peculiar in that it has developed a range of specific adaptations to resist summer drought and frequent disturbance events, such as fire and grazing. In addition, it can form both ectomycorrhizas and arbuscular mycorrhizas. More than 200 ectomycorrhiza-forming fungal species belonging to 40 genera have been reported so far to be associated with Cistus.[1] As with many other Cistaceae, the species of Cistus have the ability to form mycorrhizal associations with truffles (Tuber) and are thus able to thrive on poor sandy soils or rocks. Cistus ladanifer has been found to have mycorrhizal associations with Boletus edulis, Boletus rhodoxanthus, and Laccaria laccata.[2]

Cistus are the only host of Cytinus hypocistis, a small parasitic plant that lives on the roots and is noticeable only for a short period of time when in flower. The presence of the parasite does not seem to hurt the host population.

Cistus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Coleophora confluella and Coleophora helianthemella, the latter recorded on Cistus monspeliensis.


Cistus and Halimium form a cohesive and the most derived clade within Cistaceae.[3] Phylogenetic analyses delineated two major lineages within Cistus, a purple-flowered clade and a white-flowered clade, excepting Cistus parviflorus.[4] Further analysis of morphological characters show that C. parviflorus has the purple flowers of the purple-flowered clade, but the sessile stigmas of the white-flowered clade, indicating a potential instance of speciation via hybridization.

The white-flowered Cistus lineage was further found to consist of two groups with asymmetric characteristics, which together with ecological evidence, supports the theory of adaptive radiation within this lineage.[5]



Cistuses are among the defining plants of sunny gardens with a nearly frost-free Mediterranean climate. The hardiest of the species is C. laurifolius, which survived the hard frost at Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew in 1895 that eliminated all the cistuses save this and two white-flowered natural hybrids, C. × corbariensis, already grown by John Tradescant the Elder, and C. × loretii, a 19th-century introduction.[6]

Cultivars include:

  • Cistus × dansereaui - prostrate form of this hybrid is often cultivated
  • Cistus × florentinus - white flowers
  • Cistus × hybridus - pink buds, white flowers
  • Cistus × purpureus - pink petals with dark blotches near centre[7]
  • Cistus × skanbergii - small pink flowers
  • Cistus 'Grayswood Pink' - a selected from of Cistus parviflorus
  • Cistus 'Paladin' - large white flowers, dark green leaves
  • Cistus 'Peggy Sammons' - pink flowers, grey-green leaves[7]

Medical use

Several research groups have a special extract of the rockrose (C. incanus ssp. Tauricus) can show that the propagation of the virus flu viruses (influenza) significantly inhibits in vitro without resistance. Possibly, this research to a new treatment for the flu virus, including bird flu.[8] [9] The effectiveness in humans, however, with scientific studies have not yet been established.

See also


  1. ^ Comandini O, Contu M, Rinaldi AC. (2006). "An overview of Cistus ectomycorrhizal fungi". Mycorrhiza 16 (6): 381–395. doi:10.1007/s00572-006-0047-8. PMID 16896800. Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  2. ^ Águeda B, Parladé J, de Miguel AM, Martínez-Peña F. (2006). "Characterization and identification of field ectomycorrhizae of Boletus edulis and Cistus ladanifer". Mycologia 98 (1): 23–30. doi:10.3852/mycologia.98.1.23. PMID 16800301. Retrieved 2009-11-23. 
  3. ^ Guzmán, B. and P. Vargas. 2009. Historical biogeography and character evolution of Cistaceae (Malvales) based on analysis of plastid rbcL and trnL-trnF sequences. Organisms Diversity & Evolution 9:83-99.
  4. ^ Guzmán, B. and P. Vargas. 2005. Systematics, character evolution, and biogeography of Cistus L. (Cistaceae) based on ITS, trnL-trnF, and matK sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37:644-660.
  5. ^ Guzman, B., M. D. Lledo, and P. Vargas. 2009. Adaptive Radiation in Mediterranean Cistus (Cistaceae). PLoS ONE 4:e6362.
  6. ^ Alice M. Coats, Garden Shrubs and Their Histories, (1964) 1992, s.v. "Cistus".
  7. ^ a b Taylor, Jane (1993). Plants for dry gardens - Beating the drought. London: Frances Lincoln Limited. p. 42. ISBN 978-0711212220. 
  8. ^ Ehrhardt C, Hrincius ER, Korte V, Mazur I, Droebner K, Poetter A, Dreschers S, Schmolke M, Planz O, Ludwig S: A polyphenol rich plant extract, CYSTUS052, exerts anti influenza virus activity in cell culture without toxic side effects or the tendency to induce viral resistance. Antiviral Res. 2007; in press
  9. ^ Droebner, K., Ehrhardt, C., Pötter, A., Ludwig, S., and Planz, O. CYSTUS052, a polyphenol rich plant extract exerts anti influenza virus activity in mice. Antiviral Res. 76, 1-10 (2007)

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cistus — n. a genus of small to medium sized evergreen shrubs of southern Europe and northern Africa. Syn: genus {Cistus}. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cistus — [sis′təs] n. 〚ModL < Gr kistos, rockrose〛 any of a genus (Cistus) of low shrubs of the rockrose family, with white or purplish flowers resembling single roses: some species yield labdanum * * * …   Universalium

  • cistus — [sis′təs] n. [ModL < Gr kistos, rockrose] any of a genus (Cistus) of low shrubs of the rockrose family, with white or purplish flowers resembling single roses: some species yield labdanum …   English World dictionary

  • Cistus — (C. L.), Pflanzengattung aus der Familie der Cistineen, 13. Kl. 1. Ordn. L. Arten: C. salvifolius, kleiner Baum mit weißen, sonst nebst dem Kraut officinellen Blumen, in Krain; C. ladaniferus, Strauch mit weißen Blumen, mit violetten Nägeln, in… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Cistus — L. (Cist oder Zistrose, Zistenröschen), Gattung der Cistazeen, immergrüne, ästige Sträucher oder Halbsträucher mit ganzen, gegenständigen Blättern, schönen, hinfälligen Bliiten und vielsamigen Kapseln. 30 Arten von Portugal bis in den Orient.… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Cistus — L., Zistrose, Pflanzengattg. der Zistazeen, immergrüne Sträucher, meist der Mittelmeerländer. Mehrere Arten liefern das wohlriechende Ladanumharz, bes. C. cretĭcus L. [Abb. 357], C. cyprĭus Lam. und C. ladanifĕrus L.; andere sind Zierpflanzen, so …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Cistus —   Jara pringosa …   Wikipedia Español

  • Cistus — Zistrosen Salbeiblättrige Zistrose (Cistus salviifolius) Systematik Abteilung: Bedecktsamer (Magnoliophyta) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cistus — Ciste Pour les articles homonymes, voir Ciste (homonymie) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cistus — ID 19306 Symbol Key CISTU Common Name rockrose Family Cistaceae Category Dicot Division Magnoliophyta US Nativity N/A US/NA Plant Yes State Distribution CA Growth Habit N/A Duratio …   USDA Plant Characteristics

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