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Portuguese medicinal plants, inc. Cistus Tea


Joined: Apr 01, 2011
Posts: 15
Herbtea made from cistus incanus (rock rose) is supposed to be very benefical.  Unfortunately, we don't have any cistus incanus, but we do have a few acres of cistus ladanifer and cistus crispus.  I guess, cistus ladanifer is no good for making herb tea.  I tried using the dried leaves once for making tea, but it tasted awful and I didn't drink more than a mouthful.  I wonder though about cistus crispus.  It is in flower right now and all the hillsides are white with the flowers.  I can't find any references for it.  Does anyone know if cistus crispus can be made into a tea?  I dried some of the flowers, leaves and flowerbuds.  It has a pleasant smell, but I haven't tried making tea from it yet.

Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 7370
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
I guess there's only one way to find out! 

Ours are just starting to flower, though ours are pink not white. We don't have many of the crispus, but I might just try making some tea to see if it's drinkable.  The Cistus ladanifer tastes awful, like you said, which is a shame as there are acres and acres of the stuff. 

Rose might know something if she notices this thread.  Great to have you here, by the way - we're almost neighbours!

How works

What is a Mother Tree ?

Joined: Apr 01, 2011
Posts: 15
Burra Maluca wrote:
I guess there's only one way to find out! 

I would have to be one crazy donkey to try out every herb on the land.  We seem to have a lot of the poisonous once: digitalis, mentha canina … But to be fair, there are a lot of beneficial herbs too.  A couple of years ago, I discovered honey suckle.  Last year, I found large amounts nearby.  It is now one of our favorite ingredients for herb teas, and might have helped us through the winter without a cold.

I did a Google search on cistus crispus.  There is one reference that talks about it being a toxic plant, in another there is talk of the medicinal values.  I live in a remote place with very poor Internet access, so I haven’t been able to download the pages and check it out.  Will have to do more searching.

Ours are just starting to flower, though ours are pink not white.

You may be in luck, and you have cistus incanus.  Herb tea from cistus incanus is supposed to be very good for strengthening the immune system.  It is thought to be effective against flue, even virulent strains like bird flue.

Great to have you here, by the way – we're almost neighbours!

Thanks for the welcome.  We have 30 acres of very dry clay soil near Sao Teotonio in the Baixo Alentejo.


PS: Do you know of any references (books, online, human, etc.) that would help me identify herbs and other plants in this region?  The names used by the old people around here are often not found in any written form.
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 7370
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
I guess you're right - better leave the job of tasting everything to see if it's poisonous to the crazy burras amongst us

The old people round here don't even *have* names for most of the plants.  If you pick a load of green stuff for the chickens they take them off you, sort them out and tell you which ones are for salad, which ones for soup and which ones are only fit for chickens.  But mostly they don't give them names.  I picked one plant growing by the house and asked my neighbour about it and she gave me a whole long list of uses, including a demonstration of how if you snapped a bit off and squeezed out the yellow juice you could use it as a tincture to cure spots and warts, but when I asked her what it was called she just shrugged and suggested maybe we could call it the 'tincture plant'.  Mostly they don't read, so it's not surprising that any names they do have don't match up with anything written down.

Also, if they catch you with something that they believe is not edible, they will take it off you, throw it to the ground and stamp on it.  Even if it's something that you happen to know *is* perfectly edible.  But I guess that's how they kept their kids alive.  Like you said, only crazy donkeys try out everything they find. 

The most useful book I've found for identifying plants is Wild Flowers of the Mediterranean: A Complete Guide to the Islands and Coastal Regions by Marjorie Blamey.  It's recently been reprinted and is now affordable again - it was really crazy price and only available used for ages.  Here's a link to it on

For general wildlife, Complete Mediterranean Wildlife: Photoguide by Paul Sterry is good.  It doesn't have everything but it certainly helps.

And after that you get into the really heavy stuff by Polunin, like Flowers of South-west Europe: A Field Guide, but it's not only expensive, it's also only an addition to his main, ultra-expensive work and includes only the stuff that's found exclusively here, not also in the rest of Europe, so it's a bit hit and miss if the stuff you find will actually be in it. 

I've just noticed on Amazon that he also has a book called  Flowers of the Mediterranean which is available quite cheaply used.  I've no idea what it's like though.

I've been told that libraries have good books on identification, but it's so hard for me to get to them that I'd rather get books of my own and figure stuff out from home. 

I'll send Rose a PM - she's based in Spain and knows all kinds of stuff!

Joined: Apr 01, 2011
Posts: 15

Thank you so much for letting me have those references.  I will need to find some especially sweet thistles – I suppose that is what donkeys like?!  I will ask a friend to order these books for me since Internet and home delivery doesn’t work too well in my part of the woods.

You are lucky to have such knowledgeable neighbors.  People around here - especially the younger once - are not very interested and consider everything growing in the wild as “lixu” to be gotten rid of.

Regarding the business of trying out unknown herbs, I’m a great fan of Paracelsus who considered that everything can be either poison or remedy; it just depends on the doses.  I think that applies to medicine, herbs and food in general.  Hence, trying a bit of an unknown herb isn’t going to kill anyone.  The trouble is how to learn about its effect.  Just trying a little won’t teach you much.  And taking large doses of an unknown plant over a long period of time really isn’t something anyone would want to do.  So we are back to relying on the experience of the forebears.  Or do you think it is possible to get a hunch of how a herb may work just by looking at it?


PS: Saw the first honey suckle flowers today, seems a lot earlier than last year.

Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 7370
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
I'm not sure about the thistles...  In my family, at this time of year fava beans are top of the favourite list.  Some of us prefer the beans whilst others go crazy for the pods. 

Our locals are fond of treating all the wild plants as rubbish too and are obsessed with cleaning the land.  But all the young people have left, and the old ones don't really have the energy or resources to clear everything. But the old women still have a lifetime's experience of using wild plants for food and medicine.  I've learned to *only* ask the women for advice on plants and land management - the men feel the need to pass on the official 'clear all land at all costs' message.  But you have to ask the women discreetly when there are no men around else they will pretend to not know anything.  Men are the official keepers of knowledge, and in this village I think that only the men can read, and not even all of them, so the women have to pretend to be ignorant so that the men feel superior.  It seems to help keep the peace...

I think when it comes to 'testing' an unknown herb, it does pay to be cautious.  Hemlock looks lovely and lush and 'good for you' and is growing in great abundance in my olive grove at the moment, but  I don't think it would be a good idea for *anyone* to test that just to see what effect it has!  The donkey shares the neighbours' skepticism of any new foods.  The first time I offered her straw, she left every scrap.  It took her two weeks of delicate nibbling to see if it had any adverse effect before she decided that it was fit to eat.  And it was three years before she was satisfied that the acacia trees weren't poisonous.  I think it pays to have a bit of an aversion to testing too many new herbs - getting as much info as you can before risking a taste is certainly a wise precaution.  Having said that, I'm not averse to sniffing and squeezing leaves and having a quick taste of most things, just to see if it's worthy of further investigation.

I think Sao Teotonio must have an earlier season than Castelo Branco - our honeysuckle isn't  flowering yet.  I should be able to get out of the house later this afternoon for a few hours, so I think I'll have to double check all the wild flowers.
rose macaskie

Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
burra maluca, That is interesting about the women not looking cleverer than the men.
       I went to yoga classes which seemed to lead to a life time of being questioned about my actions like of sudenly being called  pusilamanous for not standing up to men and to being told that i was mentally were the chinese women in the past were whose feet were bound were phisically, with my feet broken, because i did not tell men were to get off on the occasions in which doing so would have been a good idea. If you are called a coward for letting the men do all the informing or give all the opinions, then the idea that it keeps the peace and so is somehow good, loses some of its persuasiveness. In my case it was not so much that i thought it was good to keep the peace it was that i was waiting or a better moment to break it. There is never a good moment to raise up a storm, you just have to do it but i did not know that.

        Another reason, apart from braveness for everyone talking, women too, is that everyone in a reduced group is likely to know different things  the womans family can be very different from her husbands and that gives her different abilities and bits of knowledge that would round off the children say, and it could also be that the woman is a better student and so knows more, so if you were king say, of a country, the fact that half the population just renounced teaching what they knew or fighting for their ideals, when you wanted a population who could compete with any other in brilliance, would be very bothersome and frustrating, you want your population educated and half of the population have shut their mouths to keep the other half happy, really frustrating! A person of that worth gets cross if women are not talking and says they are not pulling their weight and that is a good arguement. I had that accusation turned on me, i was asked why was not i taking my place as a active teacher.
     The truth is i had not noticed i did not talk of all of all  i knew,  of the seriouse things i knew, i just thought i had to wait for the right moment, that the day would come when constance and love had given men confidence, and they would share with me, in the sense that they would share  a place in the tribune and let me in on the conversation. They did some of them, let me in on it if I talked of frivolouse things, which made identifying the problem harder, it was not as if i never talked. Another thing that made it hard to see what was happening is that men were not like this when i was a child i thought it was a hard patch not a reality that would accompany me to the end of my days. That the behavior of men changes to adult women makes it hard for women to understand the situation they are to fill, that is why Gloria Steinem says that it is old women not students who will march for the freedon of women.
    Some peopel consider it a cop eout if you accuse others of shutting you mouht or say you could noht have foorseen the situation . HTtey are crazy if it was not easy to hold others down with tricks how come women  have stayed in the shadows for so long and such an enormouse majority of poor  have been always kept down.    
      It iswas my idea that some people dont want to let you talk because they see not place for themselves in coversations if there are to many conversers and it is my experience that all peole do contribute usefull things if they are given a chance at one moment or another and so it is just lack of experience that make some people fight to cut a lot of others out of the conversation.  This iidea tha tit was lack of confidence that made men try to me out and that patients and love would change the situation.  My reading of the situation was so wrong, they did not lack confidence. the day when they would have the confidence to let me talk would never come, they were not playing friendly relationships with me, they were playing my role is to take the reins and keep them, and that means holding you down and keeping you down, to borrow a phrase from mark childress?s novel the nove,l' Crazy in Alabama'.
    Men and some women too, played tricks on me like  looking sadly at me when they saw i was about to cap their argument, so i would stop what i was saying to in order to save them from looking silly, the normal tricks you play with t4eachers at schoool, like interupting you or changing the subject. They would accuse me of interrupting them when they were busy, if i spoke to them, they are always busy if a woman talks. Yawning if I insisted in talking so I felt scared of boring them. Insulting me,  that makes me give up what i am saying to lick my wounds, mental wounds. Shouting, so that I will not dare to make a fool of yourself by shouting back and there is no way to continue iif you dont shout, if they shout the noise drowns you out.  Getting physically violent is another ploy. In the end i learnt to shout like a mad woman even in the middle of the street so they could not play the trick of raising their voicies on me any more. Calling you a school marm if you get seriouse or a bore, and then a few years after they have shut your mouth forever crowing over your frivolousness because you never say anything seriouse. I think some women talk rubbish because they think its elegant i dont remember women being so given to not addressing seriouse hypothetical problems problems at school, so i can only think they have a strange reason for getting as frivolouse as many seem to get with time.
      In order to reduce my credit and so have me more powerless my husband even always puts a sarcastic expression on his face if i talked of anything more serious than the roast, about the news or politics atomic energy and such. It may be that no one will look his way and notice but every so often the children are bound to look his way and see that what i say makes him look very scornfull. That does not shut my mouth but it means the children despise my opinion too much to ask it.  When i have told anyone of that trick of his they never seem to believe me, he mostly looks goodish and slowish, people dont believe he is up to anything tricks though if you want to believe he is slwish and goofy just play cards with him he remebers everythign and always wins.  He also always acts as if he does not understand me, that is a wicked trick, in the end it made me feel as  if words did not work and lack of confidence makes you express yourself worse and worse. He also used ordinary collecting ever silly remark i made and his forgetfullness about cleverer ones to do me down and so reduce the strength of any friendships i had and he started all these tricks from nearly day one when i was splitting my self to make the reationsh¡p work.
  People talk as if it was the fault of the weak that they stayed down it seems to me that the weak dont simply lack the get up and go to try to work, or the head to study, they have to do something harder which is to break through the bondaries the strong put to stop them getting anywhere. The strong put into place a lot of very effective series of impediments to their bettering themselves, like not educating them and putting them to work so hard that they don't have time to educate themselves keeping them so short of money they canrtt get anywhere unless they are geniuses and later if they talk to them using such eradite vocabulary that people without a specialised education will never understand the concepts they are talking of because though clever enough to understand the concepts they can't understand the vocabulary, which lack of comprhension is used as evidence of the fitness of a situation that benefits the strong evidence of the superiority of the strong.   and when i married hi ¡m i thought that as he seemed quiet shy, and i thought knocked around by his elder brother i might have more of a chance that he would try to relate than i would with someone smarter.

 It is a master servant thing, if you can be shut up, no one will know if you have a sensible idea in your head or not then they will be able to say, "i am boss because i know more", and it will seem to be true and if your role is to take the reins of the situation getting the support is a help and this claim to be more efficient has always been a manener of establishing the bosses right to his position.
     In a worker, servant, situation you are paid for you humiliating position which makes it acceptable, also you go home to a family at night were you will hopefully be able to talk. Also in a worker boss situation you are aware of the situation and dont try to be loving and to establish verbal comunication with your boss, nor do you try to share the desision making with him, so you dont set up humiliations for your self trying the impossible. In a man woman situation, the woman is told she is to work for a good relationship and there is no hint tha tthe dice are weighted against her as the man considers her below him the films and books and neighbors pretend that this is a sharing position, this means a verbal one having vberbal confidence with the other trying to strike up conversation and so the woman tries all her life to give time to a creature who is trying to be aloof so as to hold the reins. Marriage is a cruel institution, so ego satifying for one to have someone who pretends at least, to seek their company and so humiliating for the  other always reaching out to be always rebufed.

    Of course, if women give up sayign what they know the men  have acheived their goal of taking the reins of the family if you stop talking though there will be nothing to show the competence of the women any more, so you will have peace you are no longer a threat to the males role of taking the reins in which are bound his whole masculine identy if he fails to take up the r4eins he is going to look weak and incompetent but it means you are not fighting for your daughters and will be leaving them in a very painful position, not being allowed to have an opinion in the end means that the men will take all decisions of any importance, that may be, in the worse cases, decisions about your children, averse ones maybe about which you can do nothing. and painfull in old fashioned language means tha twill make you very unhappy for a long time it makes you unhappy to see your children take paths that seem bad to you. You can't suddenly gain power you relinquished years ago, if you are known to be ignorant no one will back up your decisions, if you wish for an action that your husband disagrees with the group is important, if everyone says of course your husband is right he is much more competent than you, you will be on your own if you try to face him down. THtat hey should take a decision you consider harmful in a situation that involves those you love is very painful wil make you feel unhappy for a long time they also chose the friends you have and that is something wi¡hich brings a lot of lonlyness and unhappiness, the women in Portugal should fight to change this situation for their daughters.
      Even men accept not always being the totaL  boss among other men for example, they wont die if they lose a bit of position and things will be so much better for women and for men maybe when women are a little less crushed by what was meant to be a lovign relationsh¡ip and so happier.
 Lots of people suddenly start to talk as if things that happen in the family must be all right, as if humanity is all good, when they talk of families, as if nothing very bad could happen in the family, while they are perfectly inclined to admit things can go very wrong in other situations. This makes it hard to complain about anything that happens in the family.  agri rose macaskie.

Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 7370
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
Rose - do you know anything about cistus?  And things it can be used for?
rose macaskie

Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
Burra Maluca sorry to take so long answering, I seem to have taken a bit of a unplanned rest.
      I know a bit about cistus and I can and have looked up more, I don’t remember all I read about it before, now. I have information both in the book I have of Spanish sheep breeds or mostly Spanish ones, that in the case of some sheep details their diet and in the case of others merely says that they have a woody diet without saying if this means, time or cistus or time or what or some mixture of all various types of woody plants trees leaves included  though they mention the plants that most populate the land the sheep are kept on, for example the Talaverian sheep is kept on bad land covered in cistus bushes, the better pastures being reserved for kept for merino sheep, so one is left second guessing that they eat cistus while when the book talks about the Maellano race of sheep from Mallorca,  they list the moorland food these eat and cistus is part of that list with almond shells and leaf, vine leaves and many other things. Whether the bits of cistus the sheep eat according to the book on sheep, are only what is normally mentioned as eaten by deer and live stock, the flowers of the cistus and seed cases and maybe a bit of spring leaf or whether it is a lot more I don’t know.
    Juan Oria de la Rueda y Salgueros book on plants of Castilla Leon that mentions their uses some traditional and some that go on being an use given to these plants today. 

      The most important thing about this plant for me and it is very important one, is that they seem to colonize hills where nothing else will grow  saving us from desertification, they won’t grow on chalk though or most species wont.
        I say that the reason overgrazing has not converted Spain into a desert is that when the soil has been so impoverished as to lack plants and even soil, cistus restores the land. The soil has been impoverished by lack of vegetable matter to enrich it due to overgrazing, that has bared the land first of the vegetation that would have given nitrogen to the soil get restored by cistus . Over grazing first rids the land of the plants that, during the birth and rebirth cycle of plants and their roots leaves organic matter to break down in the soil and provide nitrogen which is to say, provides the plants with nutrients. This first loss of plants and nutrients in the soil leads to the second situation which is that as there are no longer enough nutrients in the soil for plants, there are no longer any plants on the soil  to hold on to the soil, so it gets washed and blown away. 
      I am talking about hills where there are 700 millimeters of rainfall, way above the quantity that is counted as desert.

        Though lack of vegetation is not always a result of lack of rainfall, lack of rainfall is the likely result of lack of vegetation, so lack of vegetation is very important and cistus will grow and covers big areas of this land that has been left as bare rock is a very important plant in the mediteranean. The cistus bushes after years of growing on these places, their leaves and bits of bark falling to the ground, restore the soils. 

    This is enormously important, without these bushes that grow on barren land Spain might have already become a desert centuries ago. Maybe, now days, people will forget to leave ruined land to the jara, cistus, judging land covered with jara to be old fashioned and stupid and Spain will become a desert. Its badly treated land will stop recovering as it  h as done until now when the shepherds had bared land they left it and cistus took over and nursed that land back to life. Agri rose macaskie.

Lisa Allen

Joined: Mar 25, 2011
Posts: 207
Location: San Diego, CA USA
Hello ladies!  Here is an interesting entry in Maude Grieve's "A Modern Herbal" FYI:

Lisa, the AstroHerbalist
rose macaskie

Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
Juan Oria de la Rueda says that cistus have negative allelopathic qualities that prevent the growth of grass at the feet of cistus bushes, he is a scientist and historian of farming and plants and such, who teaches in a university so it is a big bit of cheek to put forward a different proposal than the one he puts forward. His conclusions probably include scientific knowledge of the allelopathic components of the plants, still I question his idea.
       I used to think that cistus did not allow other plants to grow with them because i walked through patches or hillsides covered in cistus, with nothing growing at the feet of the bushes but I changed my mind when I found two places where there was a lot of thick grass growing at the feet of cistus bushes and decided that when the soil recovers thanks to these bushes, grass does grow again on the hillsides and at the feet of these bushes and thickly. When it does it is time for the shepherds to walk those hills again and destroy the vegetation for fear of fires. 
         I think one possible reason for the use of herbicides, because someone hinted as much, is to make the passage through the bushes of those who are hunting easier. The cistus bushes don’t have any thorns but they are woody and it is uncomfortable walking through them they often  grow so thick that the branches of one cross with the branches of the bush at theie side  hard sticks do scratch and bruise you a bit as you walk through them.     
       The herbicide that I have seen being used on the mountain slopes is the same that was used on my garden, it leaves the same signs on the mountain sides, blackened branches but not burnt and the disappearance of grass and the appearance of lots of moss.   
    I have taken fungi I have found in the woods, a puffball type mushroom inside a star shaped  platter from the woods  to the part of my garden burnt by herbicides for it to blow out its spores there and it has taken there, I hope this fungi will remediate the land.
     The old fashioned way of cleaning the mountain of brush was to burn it which is much better way of reducing the number of these bushes than the use of herbicides is, cistus grows back from its roots when it has been burnt and the grass too grows backs quite soon, while herbicides seem to leave the land bare of grass for more than ten years. Fires help the germination of the seeds of cistus so cistus is ground cover that cannot be destroyed by fire though they don’t seem to need the help of fire much according to Juan Oria de la Rueda there can be up to a thousand seed in the feces of a deer in spring though that is only if they have eaten seed heads in which the seed is ripe.
  Its leaves a totally wilt and with a bit of water totally recover, this is one of its heat drought surviving techniques.
   One thing that helps this plant grow on hill slopes is that it contains flavonoids that protect it from the ultra violet of the strong mountain sunlight Juan Oria de la Rueda y Salguero.
   Money can be made out of cistus but it seems to me to be a good idea to send this and then send the ways you can make money from cistus. Reading bits that look long is a "incordia" not cordial, which is to say more of a bore.

  I hang a photo of a steep slope coverd in cistus, this is a slope that is part of the village i go to. The village seen as the lands that are said to belong to that village-

  I post another photo this is of of a cistus in my garden, it just grows there i sdid not plant it there, you can see the leaves, this is the sticky cistus and the most usual one in the garden its latin name is landanifera L.with a sword shaped leaf that produces a tar called labdanum or droguera used in perfums and as a medicine being antispamodic, it also calms the nerves and reduces histeria and as one of the names of this plant is droguera and the name of the resin is very similar to the word luadanum used in the old days for opium it is to be supposed that it is a pretty strong drug.

  The last photo is of the leaf of another type of cystus that also grows in my garden though it is not a photo of one of the plants in my garden, the Cistus populifolius, iin htis photo you can see how much detritus ther is at the foot of the bush compared to the ground round it. lone bushes have better soil at their feet are island of health in deserts the bush not only drops its leaves and bits of bark but serves to catch dust in the wind that gets washed to the foot of the plant.

and an even later photo is of cistus in flower which is when they are pretty they smell good always but the bushes are not so very pretty, i would not say they had a good growth habit. agri rose macaskie.

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rose macaskie

Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
  burra maluca here is an answer to the first questions on htis thread of you and Deiter.
cystus is used for
   fire wood,
fooder for the live stock,
its tar is used,  in perfumery and medicine,
it is good for bees,
it has pares up with  edible micorrhyzal fungi,
it is used to produce humus,
  and in carpentyr make arrows and nails for corks hives,
  to tar roads
to cure leather.

  It has taken me a while to prepare the following, different types of cistus have different uses or different documented uses so it is a bit complicated. All my information comes from Juan Oria de la Ruedas y Salgueros book Guia de Árboles and Árbustos de Castilla y Leon. Castilla y Leon

  i have to change a few bits of what i have writen above after reading juan oria de la ruedas peices on cistus with more attention.
rose macaskie

Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
as foodder .
the cistus laurifolia, estepa negra, in spanish, is eaten by sheep and goats , they love its seed pods but these can poison them, it is said that there is an insect in some that poisons the live stock and according to one account their meat goes yellow and not even the vultures will eat their flesh.
At other times of year sheep and goats, can eat this cistus without problems.
  Juan Oria de la Rueda says of the cistus landanifer sticky cistus that the live stock eat its flowers and seed pods and that when the cistus is cut for fire wood for the bread ovens the goats eat the shoots that regrow after the cistus is cut .
the deer like its seed pods so much that they can have up to a thousand cistus seeds in their heces.

as humus
  As humus for vegetable garden in one part of spain the cistus was cut and placed on the streets of the village to take up the manure of herds coming into the stables at night so that it couldd be taken up and used to fertilise the vegetable agardens of the villagers each vilager  had the right to one stretch of road for th eproduction of compost.
  when i read about cows in the canaries they mentioned the use of bush from the hills as bedding as bedding so as to produce compost the main use of the cows was as producers of manure for the banana plantations according to this account.

    The cistus cervera is a food much sought after by deer and is used to feed goats and the black cows those of the black iberic race in the province of Salamanca.

  as fire wood
  The cistus is so poppular as fire wood that there have been in the passed regulations about cutting it you can take what you can break  off with your hand.
     It is or was specialy popular for bread ovens as it perfumes the bread so if you have a pizza oven were ther is cistus it is the ideal fuuel for your oven .
      It was also popular with potters it is full of tars and so must burn very hot. 
rose macaskie

Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
  the cistus landanifera resins are used in medicne perfumery and to tar roads in one village.
      In medicine
      The resin is called droga!! though you never here of anyone using it to drug themselves. It is anti-spasmodic, traquilizing and reduces hysteria. Usefull drug.

      The tar is also antiseptic and helps wounds heal.

        In the scent business
        The tar is used in perfumery to. If you look up cistus in the Internert you find spanish firms advertising their cistus resin for use in perfumery.

          In the area of Zamoran, Zamora is a Spainish province, district of  Alba, varios villages used to use the obscure droga to tar their streets, they obtained the tar, droga, by making big calderons and cooking up the branches.  So a renovable source of tar. mr Rueda suggest that it is ecological way of making roads as it is renewable.
  cistus salvifolia leaves are astringent and have increase the healing of wounds.
      They have a lot of tanin in them, so dried and crushed they were also used mixed with oak root the useual source of tannins to cure leather,  cure leather.  agri rose macaskie.
rose macaskie

Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
Deliciouse fungi. 
the cistus pairs up with these eatable fungi.

A type of boletus called boletus corsicus, or leccinum corsicum.
    It  can be confused with the leccinum lepidum but both are eatable.
  the leccinum or boteltus lepidum grows in the cistus if this plant is accompanied by oaks while the boletus corsicum is a boletus that has a micorrhyzal relationship with the cistus. so if you find a boletus where ther is only cistus it will be the corsicum.

  there is a edible white type of truffle tha is much less expensive than xome other truffles, the truffle of the desesrt that grows in cistrus covered land, called terfezia leptoderma.

  The chanterelle canterelus ciberius has a micorrhyzal relationshiiip with cistus bushes. agri rose macaskie.
Trude Sargeant

Joined: May 29, 2011
Posts: 2
Location: Western Algarve, Portugal, Europe
I believe that it is better to consume foods that have been locally grown, - as opposed to importing foods from ALL OVER the world. I believe that it is better for my health and better for the world as a whole. From there it is only a small step to thinking that therefore locally grown medicinal herbs are also better for my health, than those from far away.
Like you Dieter and like Burra Maluca (hello my new “manure” friend, we meet again) , I live in the South West of the Iberian continent where this Cistus ladanifer grows happily in the wild. As it happens this plant is a very potent and versatile medicinal herb. It could be used in treating a variety of problems, illnesses and diseases if only we know how to use it. That is why I would like to share what I know, how ever little that is.

Latin name: Cistus ladanifer
English name: Gum rockrose
Espanhol: Jara pringosa
Portugues: Esteva
Greek: Ladon


It contains: Labdanum/labdandiol, borneol, cineole, geraniol esters, sesquiterpenes (abscisic acid – farnesol), tannin, flavonoids.

I have ABSOLUTELY no idea of what the above mentioned compounds are and what they do. I hope somebody out there knows and can tell us something about it.

One thing is clear, Cistus tea is not a recreational beverage. It is a medicine. Not that you could get confused. It does taste YUK!!

To make the medicinal tea,
Pour half a liter of boiling water into a glass jug,
Add one or two tips of the cistus plant – 4 to 8 grams,
Leave to brew for 10 minutes and remove plant parts from liquid,
Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

As you will see when adding the lemon juice: the opaque venomous green changes into a more pleasant transparent tea-like colour.
Always use perfectly shaped plant tops. Stems, leaves, flowers all have the same properties.

To take the medicinal tea, you drink several SMALL amounts during the day.
Start by taking 3 dosages (30 – 50 ml each) for the first day. Then maybe 3-4 days later have 5 dosages on a day, and build it up from there. Be sure to listen to your body and when it says ENOUGH, then you are done.

My Portuguese neighbours call this plant “muita bomba”, which means something like: dynamite. Well, let me tell you they are so right. Silly me drank the entire half a liter of this bitter tea in about 3 hours. I spent the remainder of the day somewhat “outside myself” and during the early hours of the next morning I woke up thinking; I feel awful!!! Shortly after, in one violent wave, I emptied my bowels and 20 minutes later I emptied my stomach contents, in an equally violent wave. Say no more. Muita bomba. Not funny.
I spent the next days feeling very energetic while at the same time I needed many “healing sleeps”.

Myself and a few friends have been purposefully making this tea. We want to get a feel for what it does, since these plants grow all around us and could be to the benefit of our health. The old people have known this plant and have been using it all their lives. We would not want this knowledge to be lost, through disinterest or carelessness. I have started to drink this tea in a more moderate way now. Like, once a week, about 200 ml spread over the day. My friend M. drinks half a liter of the tea nicely spread over the day, every other day. I asked her: and what does it do? To her opinion – “it does a lot”. (tell me about it) So I ask, eh, a lot what?? M. says: it cleans. She does not experience averse effects. C. also drinks this tea, about twice a week, but not quite half the liter. Being English anything below the waist line is not mentioned in public. According to C. it “cleans very well”. Personally I put my money on diarrhoea. Say no more!

The Cistus ladanifer is mentioned in many articles that I looked at on the internet as a medicine to combat bacteria and fungi. Like dysentery, salmonella and Candida albicans. It is used in lung conditions, to expel mucus from the chest, when battling bronchitis, laryngitis, and colds. It can be used as a natural pesticide. Anti-worms, anti-reumatic, antiseptic. To treat ulcers, toothache, burns skin conditions. Actually, the list is quite long. I recently made a very VERY strong tea and sprayed it on my poor nectarine tree, which is covered in some kind of aphids. It made a big improvement to the tree, but certainly not all the “bugs” are gone, just that the tree looks a lot better.

Ok, there you go, that is what I know!

…and, ….uh, Burra Maluca, are you sure, after all of the above, that you still think you have found a friend.

[Thumbnail for quinta-daeg.jpg]

Permaculture has put the common sence and the logic back into our existence, Bio-dynamics is giving us back some of the magic. So, I suppose that now we need to WATER and LET GROW!!!
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 7370
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
Trude Sargeant wrote:
…and, ….uh, Burra Maluca, are you sure, after all of the above, that you still think you have found a friend.

After all the above, I'd sure like to be able to call you my friend!  I have a terrible time trying to get info like that from my neighbours and I greatly appreciate that you share what you have learned... 

I was interested in the 'muita bomba' - to me, bomba suggests 'pump', maybe a bit like pumping out your stomach.  I'm English, so I won't refer to which end it gets pumped out of, but I suspect both below and above the waist. 

I took some photos ages ago for this thread, then got myself sidetracked.  I think it's about time I posted them.

The first ones are all Cistus ladanifer, aka 'muita bomba', or Esteva.  We have our own, not very polite, name for it.  Which I'd better not make public...

I've included the notes I made at the time, which was mid April.

Rock Rose - Cistus ladanifer. Today's petals are nearly ready to fall, but there are loads of buds ready for tomorrow, and the next day...

In late afternoon, the petals fall like snow. The shriveled yellow things are yesterday's petals.

The bees love the pollen - they don't just stuff it into the pollen sacs on their legs, they will roll around in it and get totally plastered. Just like a donkey in a sand-pit.

Rock rose lines the track to the farm.

And it's totally invasive. But then, it protects the soil and gives enough shade for the trees get a hold. It seems to live for around ten to fifteen years, by which time there are some fairly well grown pines growing among it, and usually a few oak trees too. It's considered a major fire risk as the leaves are so rich in oils that it burns very, very easily, but it's also performing a very important role in the regeneration of the soil and native woodlands.

This land was completely cleared three years ago. Which means that there is now a big patch totally covered in in rock rose, all the same height, with no gaps. If it's allowed to seed, then next time it's cleared the patch will grow back bigger than last time until there's no grass left at all.

It does slowly take over grasslands even without man's help, but it's a much slower process. There is very little livestock left here, and without hoofed critters to trample over it and snap the stems of the rockrose, the grasslands will all slowly revert to forest. With the help of machines, it will turn to monocultures of rockrose. Or desert, depending on how often the land is 'cleaned'.

99% of our Cistus ladanifers have red spots, but this one is spotless. Unlike anything else I own...

This is the sage-leaved rock-rose, Cistus salvifolius, smaller and more delicate, with no red spots.

And finally Cistus crispus. Pink flowers, three rather parallel veins along the wavy-edged leaves.

Unfortunately I've not found any Cistus incanus, which my book tells me is another name for Cistus creticus. Apparently it's pink flowered, up to a metre tall, often spreading habit, 3 or 5 veins spreading from the base of the leaves, with red hairs, which may or may not be sticky, on the young stems.  I'll keep my eyes open for you Dieter!

Joined: Apr 01, 2011
Posts: 15
Many thanks for all that information about Cistus.  I can confirm that Cistus forms a beneficial symbiotic relation with soil-fungi.  I have found large numbers of Boletas among the Cistus ladanifer on our hillsides – which greatly surprised me because those hillsides have very poor soil.  But I haven’t seen any Cantarelas among the Cistus yet.  The fact that Cistus forms a symbiotic relation with soil-fungi is probably the reason why it can survive on very poor soil without any humidity – the fungi supply it with nutrients.  This is probably also the reason why we seldom see any grass among the Cistus.  The fungi dominated soil environment favors perennial plants at the expense of annual plants such as grass.  Whether one calls this allelopathic effect or something else is probably more of academic interest.  I have notice too that grass land can be taken over by Cistus – especially Cistus ladanifer, but never vice versa, except of course, goats were to have a go at it. 

But I’m not so sure about the fire hazard presented by Cistus.  I think Cistus – especially Cistus ladanifer - is generally considered as fire retardant.  At first this seems surprising, because one assumes the resin of ladanifer to accelerate fires.  I think the reason for this may be that, in particular on marginal land like on hillsides, ladanifer has a rather scraggy growth consisting mostly of hard wood with only a few leaves which doesn’t provide all that much material for combustion.  We had one fire on our land and plenty of others nearby, and I sometimes noted patches of ladanifer spared by the fire.  The trouble is that Cistus is often interspersed with broom, which really does burn like hell.

The information about the “muito bomba” is most interesting, and shows the importance of getting the dosage right.  Trude, can you be more specific about when what parts are collected?  I suppose you refer to Cistus ladanifer?  When you say “plant tops”, do you mean young leaves that are not yet fully grown?  Would the buds before flowering be any good?  What is the best time of the year to collect the leaves?

I like the bit about using Cistus for fertilizing the garden.  It reminded me of one of Bunuel’s first movies in which he showed the extreme poverty of mountain villages in the Estremadura.  The villagers in that movie used Cistus as a source of fertility.  I always wandered how exactly they did it, because that wasn’t explained in the movie – at least I can’t remember it.  Driving the cattle over cut bundles of Cistus seems ingenious.  Wonder if Cistus is any good in the garden without the manure from the cattle?  Well, crashing the hard wood of the Cistus plants with the hooves of the cattle probably also was important in the example you gave – Rose.

I can’t believe that anyone would actually spray the hillsides with herbicides! Have people gone completely mad?  I always thought that the one advantage we had living on the poor soil of these dry hills is that no agrochemicals are used anywhere near.  I hope they will never do that around here.  It is bad enough to hear the bulldozers from the logging companies roaming around.  I sometimes have nightmares about a bulldozer driving through my garden.  Wonder what Freud would make of that? Well, I’m deviating – better have a cup of herb tea.


PS: Burrinha, Many thanks for the pictures.  I haven’t been able to look at them because my Internet access is too bad.  Will comment later, if necessary, but I think we both have about the same types of Cistus.
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 7370
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
This is Cytinus hypocistis, a plant that is parasitic on Cistus ladanifer. It puts out these flowers in the spring - I took this photo in May this year. It's ant pollinated, seeds are dispersed by a beetle, and it's supposed to be edible, though as this is the only one I've seen I didn't sample it.

subject: Portuguese medicinal plants, inc. Cistus Tea