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CISTUS salvifolius

Image of Cistus salvifolius

James H. Schutte

Family

Cistaceae

Botanical Name

CISTUS salvifolius

Plant Common Name

Sageleaf Rockrose, White Rockrose

General Description

This rockrose isn’t a true rose but a drought- adapted, large-flowered shrub from the Old World. It is found along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and further inland where winters are mild and rainy followed by a long, dry summer. The leaves are small, rough and gray-green, typical of many plants adapted to drought. They are are rich in potent oils once extracted as a substitute for the ancient perfumer’s ambergris.

These evergreen shrubs do their growing during the moist winter months. In spring they produce large five-petalled white flowers with a tuft of golden stamens that make them resemble wild roses, hence the common name. They resent humidity and therefore struggle in warm, humid climates. They will not take the heat of inland deserts nor mountain cold. Where they are well adapted, they thrive and ask for little water in the dry season. The only drawback is that some die after five to seven years, but there is a debate about whether their brief longevity is natural or a result of over-watering. This is an essential evergreen shrub for a Mediterranean-style garden, where it contributes color and fragrance. Planted in a group, it is exceptional for erosion control on banks and slopes.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    24"-30" / 61.0cm - 76.2cm

  • Width

    30'-36' / 9.1m - 11.0m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Late Spring

  • Native To

    Southern Europe

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Cushion/Mound-forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Sea Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Sea Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Sea Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Sea Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Foundation, Groundcover, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    No