Compact shrub, approximately 1 m (3 1/3 ft) tall and equally wide, with gray-green foliage and 5 – 6.5 cm (2 – 2 1/2 in) pink "roses" that appear in late winter – early spring. Both the leaves and flowers have a wrinkled appearance.
According to "Plants for a Future", ssp. Cistus Incanus Creticus and, I suspect, all Rock Roses, have several uses. In particular, leaves can be used as a tea substitute, whilst the oleo-resin obtained from the leaves and stems is used as a commercial food flavoring in baked goods, ice cream, chewing gum etc.
In addition, the plant is an aromatic, expectorant, stimulant herb that controls bleeding and has antibiotic effects. It is used internally in the treatment of catarrh and diarrhoea and as an emmenagogue. The leaves are harvested in late spring and early summer and can be dried for later use, or the resin extracted from them.
Finally, the glandular hairs on the leaves yield the oleo-resin "ladanum", which, some sources, associate with the "myrrh" of biblical references, It is used medicinally and in soaps, perfumery, fumigation etc. This resin is an acceptable substitute for ambergris (which is obtained from the sperm whale) and so is important in perfume manufacture. 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. Most resin is produced at the hottest time of the year.
|Collection of labdanum today in Northen Crete.|