Rockrose

Cistus salviifolius
Cistaceae, Rockrose family
blooming rockrose flowers Cistus salviifolius
blooming rockrose flowers Cistus salviifolius
Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your packs and take them down to the man as a gift—some balsam and some honey, aromatic gum and resin [cistus], pistachios and almonds.
Genesis 43:11 HCSB
blooming rockrose flowers Cistus salviifolius
Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt.
Genesis 37:25 NRSV

Cultural Information

TypePerennial
Height24 to 40 inches
Soilrocky, sandy loam, well-draining
Exposuresunny
Leavesdeep green, oval shaped leaves, with strong central vein and rusticated surface, approx. 1 to 2 inches long; named for "sage-like" leaves. Tiny hairs cover leaves and stems, which exude a gummy resin used in perfumery
Flowers5 bright, papery, white petals cup golden tuft of stamens, resembling wild Rosa spp. flowers; blooms last one day only, though shrub will be continually covered mid-to-late spring with flowers. C. creticus has pinkish-purple flowers, other hybrids have magenta, center star-like markings surrounding blossoms' gold center

Planting Tips

  • perennial to Zone 8
  • plant in full sun
  • once established, rockrose needs little water so adjust sprinkler spray accordingly
  • shrub will grow and spread horizontally over time
  • ideal for hillsides or sloping sites, and hard-to-care-for inclines and ravines
  • evergreen, though leaves will take on muddled appearance in colder months

Garden to Table

  • rockrose is a compliment to the landscape but not so much the table...
  • flowers bloom for only a day, not much good for a bouquet!
  • plant outside a sunny window to enjoy its showy bloom season at a distance
  • cistus essential oil is available commercially, enjoy its honey-sweet scent in aromatherapy

Additional Resources

See Blog Posts on Rockrose
The patriarch Israel considered the gum one of the “best products” of the land, along with bee honey made from this and other wild flowers (Genesis 43:11). Probably because of the association with perfumery, lot [Hebrew word for Cistus or rockrose] is translated as “myrrh” — though another plant, more, is the botanical myrrh of the Song of Songs and a gift of the Magi to Jesus (Song of Songs 1:13; Matthew 2:11).
-from the NIV God's Word for Gardeners Bible
blooming rockrose flowers Cistus salviifolius
Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt.
Genesis 37:25 NRSV

Photo Credits

©2013 Ihervas ID 34755195 | Dreamstime.com Rockroses growing in a granite mountain in Iruelas Valley Natural Park, Avila, Spain
©2019 Caner Çiftçi ID 150643421 | Dreamstime.com Close-up shoot of Salvia cistus flower
From Cistineae. The Natural Order of Cistus or Rock-Rose by Robert Sweet, F.L.S. c.1825-1830
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