Flammable, beautiful and ecologically important, Rock roses (Cistus) are a striking feature of the Mediterranean hillside in spring

Long-used in the perfume industry, these  shrubs which are so emblematic of the Mediterranean, have aromatic volatile oils and have even been reported to self-ignite in hot conditions! Interestingly, fire may actually stimulate their seeds to germinate.

They form associations with truffles, and with a curious little parasite, Cytinus hypocistis (see photo below of plant emerging from a rock rose root), which actually lives within the rock rose’s tissues until flowering.

So much more than just attractive garden shrubs!

 

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