Spot The Difference – Esteva Flowers

Last year someone told me that there are two different variants of the Esteva plant (Portuguese name, not to be confused with the Stevia plant), commonly known in English as the Gum Rockrose. It was mentioned that there is a version that has no spots. I had never seen one until this morning, I’m certainly no plant expert, but it’s great when you stumble across something new.

The scientific name for the Esteva is Cistus ladanifer and the two sub-species are ladanifer and sulcatus. The landanifer has the purple markings where the sulcatus does not, however, they appear to be identical plants.

Cistus ladanifer subspecies ladanifer

Cistus ladanifer subspecies sulcatus

The sulcatus is not to be confussed with another much smaller Cistus plant, the Cistus salviifolius known in English as the Sage-leaved Rockrose due to the leaves looking similar to Sage. This is also a very common plant in the hills of the Algarve.

Cistus salviifolius

Anyone who has been in an area where Estava grows will recognise the very strong sweet smelling resin. In the olden days, the resin was used as a medicine to treat colds amongst other things. Shepards used to allow their Sheep and Goats to graze through the shrubs and then the resin would be scraped off the coats and sold to merchants. Eventually, harvesting was done by dragging material through the shrubs to collect the resin.

In the modern world, the resin can be used in the perfume industry. The plants are very flammable and therefore are used by locals (inlcuding myself) as kindling to start a fire or logburner.

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