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Cistus ladaniferCistus ladanifer is an aromatic shrub native to many parts of the western Mediterranean. This species and others of the genus Cistus have been used since antiquity in a range of medical and cosmetic (perfumery) applications. Several species of Cistus continue to be exploited commercially: the labdanum resin exuded by the leaves and stems of the plant has an intense woody/ amber scent much valued in high-end perfumery. Most Cistus used in the perfume industry is harvested from the wild in countries including Portugal, Spain and Greece. Contemporary research into the biologically active constituents of Cistus has investigated the antimicrobial, antifungal, cytotoxic, anti-diabetic and antioxidant properties of Cistus extracts. Cistus species have also been evaluated for use in rehabilitation of mined land and as a forage crop.

In Australia, Cistus shrubs – more commonly known as “Gum rock rose” or “Gallipoli rose” are often grown as ornamental plants. EOPAA members Ken Redwood and Lisa Chandler of Chandler Redwood established a trial plantation of two Cistus varieties in East Gippsland, Victoria in 2015, with a view to producing Cistus essential oils and other labdanum resin products (Figure 1). In March 2017 they completed their first steam distillation of dried Cistus samples and the resulting essential oil has been analysed at the University of Tasmania Central Science Laboratory (Figure 2).

Figure 1: Cistus plantation

Figure 1: Part of western block of Chandler Redwood trial Cistus plantation

Figure 2: Key chemical constituents – Chandler Redwood Cistus essential oil (March 2017)

The results are very promising: compared to published results for European Cistus oils, the initial test results show an essential oil low in easily degraded monoterpenes (such as pinene and camphene) and rich in less volatile, more organoleptically complex sesquiterpenes and diterpene compounds (Figure 3).

Figure 3 is an image of a Comparison of Victorian - produced Cistus essential oil

Figure 3: Comparison of Victorian—produced Cistus essential oil (Chandler Redwood, March 2017) with commercially produced Spanish Cistus oil

Given the very positive oil quality results, the company proposes to expand its plantations and to conduct further trials to assess plant yields under various production and extraction methods.

Reference: Gomes, PB , Mata, VG and Rodrigues AE (2005) Characterization of the Portuguese-grown Cistus ladanifer essential oil, Journal of Essential Oil Research, 17:2, 160-165.

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