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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids II
Ordo: Malvales

Familia: Cistaceae
Genera: CistusCrocanthemumFumanaHalimiumHelianthemumHudsoniaLecheaPakaraimaeaTuberaria
Nothogenera: × Halimiocistus


Cistaceae Juss., Gen. Pl.: 294 (1789), nom. cons.

Type genus: Cistus L.


Pakaraimaea transferred here from Dipterocarpaceae (APG, 2016 & Ducousso et al., 2004)
Primary references

Jussieu, A.L. de 1789. Genera plantarum, secundum ordines naturales disposita juxta methodum in Horto Regio Parisiensi exaratam. 498 pp. Paris: Herissant et Theophile Barrois. BHL Reference page.

Additional references

Ducousso, M., Béna, G., Bourgeois, C., Buyck, B., Eyssartier, G., Vincelette, M., Rabevohitra, R., Randrihasipara, L., Dreyfus, B. & Prin, Y. 2004. The last common ancestor of Sarcolaenaceae and Asian dipterocarp trees was ectomycorrhizal before the India-Madagascar separation, about 88 million years ago. Molecular Ecology 13(1): 231–236. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-294X.2003.02032.x Reference page.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. 2016. An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG IV. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 181(1): 1–20. DOI: 10.1111/boj.12385 Reference page.


Stevens, P.F. 2001 onwards. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 14, July 2017 [and more or less continuously updated since]. Online. Reference page.

Vernacular names
العربية: قريضية
azərbaycanca: Buxurkolukimilər
български: Лавданови
català: Cistàcia
čeština: cistovité
dansk: Soløje-familien
Deutsch: Zistrosengewächse
English: Rock Rose family
Esperanto: Cistacoj
eesti: Kuldkannilised
فارسی: گل‌آفتابیان
suomi: Päivännoutokasvit
français: Cistacées
Gaeilge: Rós gréine
עברית: לוטמיים
hornjoserbsce: Słónčničkowe rostliny
magyar: Szuharfélék
հայերեն: Խնկազգիներ
Ido: Heliantemo
日本語: ハンニチバナ科
ქართული: საკმელასებრნი
한국어: 반일화과
kurdî: Famîleya giyarastikan
lietuvių: Švitrūniniai
Nederlands: Zonneroosjesfamilie
norsk: Solrosefamilien
polski: Czystkowate
русский: Ладанниковые
slovenčina: cistovité
svenska: Solvändeväxter
Türkçe: Ladengiller
українська: Ладанникові
Tiếng Việt: Họ Nham mân khôi
中文: 半日花科

The Cistaceae are a small family of plants (rock-rose or rock rose family) known for their beautiful shrubs, which are profusely covered by flowers at the time of blossom. This family consists of about 170(-200) species in nine genera[2] that are not very distinct, distributed primarily in the temperate areas of Europe and the Mediterranean basin, but also found in North America; a limited number of species are found in South America. Most Cistaceae are subshrubs and low shrubs, and some are herbaceous. They prefer dry and sunny habitats. Cistaceae grow well on poor soils, and many of them are cultivated in gardens.

They often have showy yellow, pink or white flowers, which are generally short-lived. The flowers are bisexual, regular, solitary or borne in cymes; they usually have five, sometimes three, petals (Lechea). The petals are free, usually crumpled in the bud, and sometimes in the open flower (e. g. Cistus incanus). It has five sepals, the inner three of which are distinctly wider, and the outer two are narrow and sometimes regarded as bracteoles. The sepal arrangement is a characteristic property of the family.

The stamens are numerous, of variable length, and sit on a disc; filaments are free. The ovary is superior, usually with three carpels; placentation is parietal, with two or more ovules on each placenta. The fruit is a capsule, usually with five or ten valves (three in Helianthemum). The seeds are small, with a hard, water-impermeable coating, weighing around 1 mg.[3][4][5][6][7]

Recently the neotropical tree Pakaraimaea dipterocarpacea is placed here, following APG IV (2016)[8]

Cistus × purpureus orchid rock rose

The ability of Cistaceae to thrive in many Mediterranean habitats follows from two important ecological properties: mycorrhizal ability and fast renewal after wildfire. Most Cistaceae have the ability to create symbiotic relationship with root fungi of the genus Tuber.[9][10] In this relationship, the fungus complements the root system in its task of absorbing water and minerals from the soil, and thus allows the host plant to dwell on particularly poor soils. In addition, an interesting quality of T. melanosporum is its ability to kill all vegetation except the host plant within the reach of its mycelium, and thus to give its host some sort of "exclusiveness" for the adjacent land area.[10]

Cistaceae have also optimally adapted to the wildfires that frequently eradicate large areas of forest. The plants cast their seeds in the soil during the growth period, but they do not germinate in the next season. Their hard coating is impermeable to the water, and thus the seeds remain dormant for a long period of time. This coating together with their small size allows these plants to establish a large seed bank rather deep in the soil. Once the fire comes and kills the vegetation in the area, the seed coating softens or cracks as a result of the heating, and the surviving seeds germinate shortly after the fire. This mechanism allows the Cistaceae to produce a large number of young shoots simultaneously and at the right time, and thus to obtain an important advantage over other plants in the process of repopulating the area.[3][11]

Molecular analyses of angiosperms have placed Cistaceae within the Malvales, forming a clade with two families of tropical trees, Dipterocarpaceae and Sarcolaenaceae.[12][13] Recent phylogenetic studies confirm the monophyly of Cistaceae on the basis of plastid sequences and morphological synapomorphies.[14]

Within Cistaceae, eight genera are recognized, including five in the Mediterranean (Cistus, Fumana, Halimium, Helianthemum, Tuberaria) and three in the temperate regions of North America (Crocanthemum, Hudsonia, Lechea). These eight genera can be grouped into five major lineages within Cistaceae:

a basal clade of the genus Fumana
the New World clade of Lechea
the Helianthemum s. l. clade, consisting of the sister groups Crocanthemum and Hudsonia from the New World, and Helianthemum s. s. from the Old World
the Tuberaria clade
a cohesive complex of Halimium and Cistus species

Cultivation and uses

An Anthrax fly on rock-rose near Sotosalbos, Spain

Cistus, Halimium and Helianthemum are widely cultivated ornamental plants. Their soil requirements are modest, and their hardiness allows them to survive well even the snowy winters of Northern Europe.

Some Cistus species, mostly C. ladanifer, are used to produce an aromatic resin, used in the perfume industry.

The ability of Cistaceae to create mycorrhizal relation with truffle mushroom (Tuber) prompted several studies about using them as host plants for truffle cultivation. The small size of Cistus shrubs could prove favorable, as they take up less space than traditional hosts, such as oak (Quercus) or pine (Pinus), and could thus lead to larger yield per field unit.

Cistaceae has been listed as one of the 38 plants used to prepare Bach flower remedies,[15] a kind of alternative medicine promoted for its effect on health. However, according to Cancer Research UK, "there is no scientific evidence to prove that flower remedies can control, cure or prevent any type of disease, including cancer".[16]

In the Victorian language of flowers, the gum cistus of the Cistaceae plant family symbolized imminent death.
Synonymous genera

These generic names inside Cistaceae were defined in various publications,[17][18] but their members were synonymised with the eight accepted genera by later research.


Fossil record

†Cistinocarpum roemeri, a middle Oligocene macrofossil from Germany is described as an ancestor of extant Cistaceae. Tuberaria fossil pollen have been found in Pliocene formations of Germany.[19]

Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x.
Christenhusz, M. J. M. & Byng, J. W. (2016). "The number of known plants species in the world and its annual increase". Phytotaxa. 261 (3): 201–217. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.261.3.1.
Thanos, C. A., K. Georghiou, C. Kadis, C. Pantazi (1992). Cistaceae: a plant family with hard seeds. Israel Journal of Botany 41 (4-6): 251-263. (Available online: Abstract Archived 2004-12-05 at the Wayback Machine | Full text (PDF) Archived 2004-06-09 at the Wayback Machine)
Heywood, V. H. (ed.) (1993). Flowering plants of the world, pp. 108–109. London: Batsford. ISBN 0-19-521037-9
Hutchinson, J. (1973). The families of flowering plants: arranged according to a new system based on their probable phylogeny (3rd ed.), pp. 254–255. Oxford: Clarendon. ISBN 0-19-854377-8.
Judd W. S., C. S. Campbell, E. A. Kellogg, P. F. Stevens, M. J. Donoghue (2002). Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach, 2nd edition, pp. 409–410 (Cistaceae). Sunderland, Massachusetts: Sinauer Associates. ISBN 0-87893-403-0.

Jussieu, Antoine Laurent de (1789). Genera Plantarum: 294. Parisiis.

Mabberley, D. J. (1997). The plant-book: a portable dictionary of the vascular plants (2nd ed.), p. 160. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-41421-0.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2016), "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG IV", Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 161 (2): 105–20, doi:10.1111/boj.12385
Chevalier, G., D. Mousain, Y. Couteaudier (1975). Associations ectomycorhiziennes entre Tubéracées et Cistacées. Annales de Phytopathologie 7(4), 355-356
Giovannetti, G., A. Fontana (1982). Mycorrhizal synthesis between Cistaceae and Tuberaceae. New Phytologist 92, 533-537
Ferrandis, P., J. M. Herrantz, J. J. Martínez-Sánchez (1999). Effect of fire on hard-coated Cistaceae seed banks and its influence on techniques for quantifying seed banks. Plant Ecology 144 (1): 103-114. (Available online: DOI)
Savolainen, V., M. W. Chase, S. B. Hoot, C. M. Morton, D. E. Soltis, C. Bayer, M. F. Fay, A. Y. De Bruijn, S. Sullivan, and Y.-L. Qiu. 2000. Phylogenetics of Flowering Plants Based on Combined Analysis of Plastid atpB and rbcL Gene Sequences. Syst Biol 49:306-362.
Soltis, D. E., P. S. Soltis, M. W. Chase, M. E. Mort, D. C. Albach, M. Zanis, V. Savolainen, W. H. Hahn, S. B. Hoop, M. F. Fay, M. Axtell, S. M. Swensen, L. M. Prince, W. J. Kress, K. C. Nison, and J. S. Farris. 2000. Angiosperm phylogeny inferred from 18S rDNA, vbcL, and atpB sequences. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 133:381-461.
Guzmán, B. and P. Vargas. 2009. Historical biogeography and character evolution of Cistaceae (Malvales) based on analysis of plastid rbcL and trnL-trnF sequences. Organisms Diversity & Evolution 9:83-99.
D. S. Vohra (1 June 2004). Bach Flower Remedies: A Comprehensive Study. B. Jain Publishers. p. 3. ISBN 978-81-7021-271-3. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
"Flower remedies". Cancer Research UK. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
IPNI (2004). The International Plant Names Index - Record on Cistaceae. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2004.
Kew (2004). List of genera in Cistaceae Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine, in Vascular Plant Families and Genera Database Archived 2004-11-18 at the Wayback Machine, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2004.
Beatriz Guzman; Pablo Vargas (2009). "Historical biogeography and character evolution of Cistaceae (Malvales) based on analysis of plastid rbcL and trnL-trnF sequences" (PDF). Organisms, Diversity & Evolution. 9: 83–99. Retrieved 31 March 2022.

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