Cistus ladanifer L.

Key Facts

Flower colour : white, with or without a  maroon blotch at the base of each petal; unblotched forms are called var. albiflorus.
Flower diameter : 11cm
Height & Spread : 3m x 1m (but see below)
Habit : upright (but see below)
Notes : flowers solitary. The source of modern commercial ladanum, the sticky gum exuded from leaves and young stems. The type species is an ungainly plant not well suited to cultivation, but the parent of many superb hybrids. There are, however many variants and cultivars which are much better garden plants.
Variants : var. sulcatus f. latifolius – a low-growing variant with broader leaves; var. sulcatus f. bicolor has blotched petals; var. petiolatus is fairly compact; var. petiolatus ‘Bennett’s White’ is a fine cultivar with frilly petals.
Cultivars : ‘Blanche’ (unblotched), ‘Paladin’ and ‘Pat’ (both blotched), all raised by Collingwood Ingram, are intermediate between the type and var. sulcatus, raised by crossing the two. My ‘Minstrel’ is similar, with large, black blotches. ‘John Hardy’ is of unknown recent origin. It appears to be var. sulcatus f. bicolor. ‘Bashful’ is a miniature sport from C. ladanifer var. albiflorus, attaining only about 30cm, but with almost full-size flowers.






Cistus ladanifer L. var. sulcatus f. latifolius

sulcatus bicolor

Cistus ladanifer var. sulcatus f. bicolor

Bennett's White

Cistus ladanifer var. petiolatus ‘Bennett’s White’



N.B.  Erratum: On page 44 of our guide Bygrave, P. (ed. Page, R.G.) (2001)  Cistus – A Guide to the Collection at the Chelsea Physic Garden, Cistus ladanifer ‘Pat’ is described as having pure white flowers. In fact each petal has a large dark maroon basal blotch.


‘Bashful’ (miniature)