March Plant of the Month: Rock Rose (Maltese: Ċistu)

Project Pancake Flora –

 Plants and Nature Conveying Augmented Knowledge for Everyone
Cretan Rock Rose in Malta. Photo by Guido Bonett

The Rock Roses are small to medium perennial shrubs which grow in rocky areas and poor soils, typically in the Mediterranean region. Their delicate tissue-like flowers with 5 petals range in colour from white to pink and purple and only last one day! But the plant itself is very hardy and can  regenerate fast after natural fires. The foliage is usually scented and the plants often have highly flammable resins. Their resilience, coupled with their low maintenance needs and beautiful rose-like flowers have long made them popular in horticulture – but they are seen at their best in their natural habitats – the garigue and low maquis.

In Malta it is most likely to come across two species within the Cistus family, both of which are rare: the White Rock Rose (Ċistu Abjad) Cistus monspeliensis and the Cretan Rock Rose (Ċistu Roża) Cistus creticus subsp. eriocephalus) with its larger bright pink flowers. The best time to spot these garigue beauties is from March till May (if you are lucky enough to find their hideouts…).

About Project PANCAKE:

As part of the Project PANCAKE (Plants and Nature Conveying Augmented Knowledge for Everyone) we are looking at a number of plant species chosen together with the deaf communities in Malta, Italy, Spain and UK to create new signs for plants which until now had never been described in sign language. 

Read more about PANCAKE here!

Check out our Community library for publications on local biodiversity!

Photos by Guido Bonett and text by Annalise Falzon

Plants and Nature Conveying Augmented Knowledge for Everyone

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