Herb: Labdanum

Latin name: Cistus ladanifer

Synonyms: Cistus ladaniferus

Family: Cistaceae (Rock-rose Family)

Medicinal use of Labdanum:

Labdanum 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.

Description of the plant:


150 cm
(5 feet)



Habitat of the herb:

Pine woods, copses and on dry usually granitic hills.

Edible parts of Labdanum:

Seed - ground into a powder and used with cereal flours in making cakes and breads. An oleo-resin obtained from the leaves and stems is eaten raw or used as a commercial food flavouring in baked goods, ice cream, chewing gum etc. The plant is said to yield a sweet manna.This report is probably referring to the oleo-resin mentioned above.

Other uses of the herb:

The glandular hairs on the leaves yield the oleo-resin "ladanum", 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.

Propagation of Labdanum:

Seed - gather when ripe and store dry. Surface sow in late winter in a greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 4 weeks at 20C. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle into individual pots. Grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter and plant them out the in the following spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seed stores for at least 3 years. Cuttings of softish to half-ripe wood, 8cm long with a heel or at a node, June/August in a frame. Roots are formed within 3 weeks. High percentage. Cuttings of almost mature wood, 8 - 12cm with a heel or at a node, September/October in a frame. High percentage. Lift and pot up in the spring, plant out when a good root system has formed. Layering in spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Pine woods, copses and on dry usually granitic hills.

Known hazards of Cistus ladanifer:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.