We have recently published ‘Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions’: i.e. tropical and sub-tropical regions. We rely on regular donations to keep our free database going and help fund development of this and another book we are planning on food forest plants for Mediterranean climates. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Cistus ladanifer - L.

Common Name Labdanum, Common gum cistus
Family Cistaceae
USDA hardiness 6-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Pine woods, copses and on dry usually granitic hills[89, 184].
Range Europe - W. Mediterranean.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Cistus ladanifer Labdanum, Common gum cistus

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cistus_ladaniferus.png Cistus salviifolius
Cistus ladanifer Labdanum, Common gum cistus


Translate this page:


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Cistus ladanifer is an evergreen Shrub growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7. It is in leaf all year, in flower in June, and the seeds ripen in August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


C. ladaniferus.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Manna  Seed
Edible Uses: Condiment  Gum

Seed - ground into a powder and used with cereal flours in making cakes and breads[177, 183]. An oleo-resin obtained from the leaves and stems is eaten raw or used as a commercial food flavouring in baked goods, ice cream, chewing gum etc[2, 105, 177, 183, 238]. The plant is said to yield a sweet manna[183].This report is probably referring to the oleo-resin mentioned above[K].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antibiotic  Emmenagogue  Expectorant  Stimulant

Labdanum is an aromatic, expectorant, stimulant herb that controls bleeding and has antibiotic effects[4, 238]. It is used internally in the treatment of catarrh and diarrhoea[238] and as an emmenagogue[4]. The leaves are harvested in late spring and early summer and can be dried for later use, or the resin extracted from them[238].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses

Gum  Resin

The glandular hairs on the leaves yield the oleo-resin 'ladanum', used medicinally and in soaps, perfumery, fumigation etc[4, 11, 46, 61, 64, 89, 100]. This resin is an acceptable substitute for ambergris (which is obtained from the sperm whale) and so is important in perfume manufacture[238]. The resin is collected by dragging a type of rake through the plant, the resin adhering to the teeth of the rake, or by boiling the twigs and skimming off the resin[64, 89]. Most resin is produced at the hottest time of the year[46].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Carbon Farming  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Hydrocarbon  Management: Coppice  Regional Crop

Requires a sunny position in a well-drained light sandy soil[11, 182], growing well in poor soils[238]. Withstands drought once it is established[11, 190]. Plants are fairly wind resistant[166, K], tolerating maritime exposure[188]. Resents root disturbance[11]. Plants are hardy to about -10c[184], but they require protection in severe winters[11]. Plants are somewhat hardier when grown in poor soils[182]. Individual flowers only last one day but there is a long succession of them[11, 200]. Labdanum dislikes pruning, especially as it gets older and so any formative work should be restricted to removing dead, straggly or damaged growths[238]. The plant also resents root disturbance[200]. Plants should be pot grown and then planted out in their final positions whilst still small. Sometimes cultivated for its gum, which is known as 'Labdanum', this is exuded in such quantity in hot weather that the plant becomes very sticky[4, 61]. The leaves have glandular hairs which produce an aromatic gum. The sweet balsamic smell is most apparent in the summer in the early morning[245]. A very ornamental plant, it is very free-flowering and fast growing[49]. There are a number of named forms developed for their ornamental value[182]. An excellent nurse plant for sheltering young seedlings[49]. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[88, 200]. The flowers are very attractive to bees[108]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200].

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Hydrocarbon  Materials, chemicals and energy include bioplastics, rubber, biomass products gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, butane, propane, biogas. Plants are usually resprouting plants and saps.
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

Seed - gather when ripe and store dry[78]. Surface sow in late winter in a greenhouse[164]. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 4 weeks at 20°c[164]. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle into individual pots. Grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter and plant them out the in the following spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts[164]. The seed stores for at least 3 years[K]. Cuttings of softish to half-ripe wood, 8cm long with a heel or at a node, June/August in a frame. Roots are formed within 3 weeks[78]. High percentage[78]. Cuttings of almost mature wood, 8 - 12cm with a heel or at a node, September/October in a frame. High percentage[78]. Lift and pot up in the spring, plant out when a good root system has formed[78]. Layering in spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Cistus albidusRock RoseShrub1.0 6-9 FLMNDM10 
Cistus creticusRock Rose, Cretan rockroseShrub1.0 7-10  LMNDM223
Cistus salviifoliusRock Rose, Salvia cistus, Sage Leaf Rock RoseShrub0.6 8-11 FLMNDM103
Cytinus hypocistus  0.0 -  LMHSNM11 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

   Sat Dec 2 20:11:03 2000

Also present in Portugal

Armando Toscano Rico   Tue Feb 28 2006

In the Quercus Suber forest the Cistus is an invading species that crestes strong problems in the Suber forest maintenance and to the extraction of the cork. Are there any other means to control/erradicate the Cistus but the mowing ?

Nicholas Coulson   Thu Jul 12 2007

I am looking for commercial quantities of Labdanum Gum. Where can I find? Can anybody help? Tks/Kind Rgds Nicholas Coulson

Rui Delgado   Wed Sep 19 2007

I know Forestry companies are using glyphosate to control Cistus. Is this effective?

Niktaris Dimitris   Sat Oct 27 2007

http://www.labdanum.gr labdanum from Cistus Creticus – Sises Rethimno Crete My name is Niktaris Dimitris. I'm from Sises Rethimno Crete Greece. Sises is a village in northern Crete. SISES IS "A very small amount of ladanum is still gathered in this traditional way in a small area surrounding a village in northern Crete." My village labdanum produces from cistus creticus only in all the world with traditional way. I have made this site : http://www.labdanum.gr in English http://www.labanum.gr in Greek I have collected information for labdanum or ladanum (Cistus creticus). I will be cheerful if we have a contact. My e-mail : [email protected] Niktaris Dimitris Thank you.

labdanum from cistus creticus

Judita Musteikyte   Thu Apr 17 2008

I am looking for cistus ladanifer [and other's of Cistus Family]where I'll buy them online,because it is'nt possible in my country's shops.Kind regards.\Judita

mairi   Sat Jan 17 2009

We have 20 acres of cistus ladanifer, which we are going to hand harvest. Is there anyone here interested in buying the resin or any other pert of the plant here? please make any inquiries to [email protected]. Thanks Mairi

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Cistus ladanifer  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.