Known today as the rockrose, a shrub which produces beautiful, five-petal flowers; this plant was very famous in ancient Egypt. The whole genus, Cistus, is highly resistant to heat and drought. They have come into the warmer landscape as a staple flowering shrub that grows where few other plants stand a chance. It is a native of the Mediterranean region. Plants contain aromatic oils in abundance. The scent of rock rose oil is very powerful and distinctive. This oil of rock rose has since antiquity been of great value. It is called ladanum, which is reflected in the name of the most oil rich species, Cistus. What made ladanum so coveted is that its properties and scent were similar to ambergris, a byproduct of sperm whales.

Collecting ladanum from wild rockroses was done through two methods.

First was a process by which special absorptive materials such as cloth or hair was brushed over the top of the plants so that the oil built up on the fibers. It was then heated to release the oils under a more controlled extraction process. It is believed that the flail seen in the hands of gods and pharaohs of ancient Egypt was actually a ladanisterion, or ladanum collecting device.

The second method of harvest utilized the herds of goats that are so prevalent in this part of the world. As the goats browsed on rockroses, the oil accumulated in their beards. Each year the long beards of the goats were cut and the oil extracted. For the pharaohs, the false beards glued to the chin were in fact these ladanum-rich goat beards which would surround the man with the desired scent. This is origin of the name for such facial hair, the goatee.