The pink Rockrose on Kefalonia
Springtime on Kefalonia. Among the abundance of beautiful flowers, there is one that goes almost unnoticed. The lovely pink Rockrose with the botanical name Cistus is a small shrub and its pink or white flowers have crumpled petals.
You can’t find them everywhere as they prefer poor soil in rocky areas. Sometimes there is a whole hillside full of white Rockrose with just a few pink Rockrose spots here and there. Other areas seem to be preferred only by the pink Rockrose and finally, there are areas where you can find neither one.
Pink Rockrose as a medical plant
As a medical plant, the pink Cistus incanus is the desired flower to collect on Kefalonia. In 1999 it was chosen as the European plant of the year. The reason: It seems that this species of Cistus is a powerful weapon against a number of diseases due to the plant’s high level of polyphenols. Polyphenols help the body fight against the so-called free radicals that can contribute to causing cancer or heart disease.
It was found that Cistus incanus have more polyphenols than almost any other plant in Europe. This little flower is an all-rounder. It is said to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and even anti-fungal abilities as well as helping the immune system against allergies. You can drink it as tea or use concentrated tea to treat skin irritations or injuries.
Did they find all this out in 1999? Far from it. Already in ancient times, Cistus was used for medical purposes. The first references go back to the 4th century BC. But this old knowledge fell into oblivion. Only in a few regions in Greece and the Mediterranean, people still use the pink Rockrose as a cure for injuries, the flu or just as a daily tea to stay healthy.
Cistus on Kefalonia
So, there are many good reasons to go out into nature and collect Cistus on Kefalonia. The first little pink flowers show up in March. Then, in April and May, you can see them in many places.
Short self-promotion: If you are planning to spend your holidays in Kefalonia have a look at the holiday home Joleni Cottage. It is located in the midst of nature and there are many places nearby where you can collect the Rockrose.
After collection, the Cistus is taken home and either placed on a clean sheet in the shade or hung upside down on a clothesline to dry for a few days in the breeze.
And then the pleasant part begins for the tea lovers and an act of self-discipline for coffee fans: brew the tea and drink it.
How to prepare the Rockrose tea
- Take a small handful of dried Cistus and add approx. 500ml of boiling water. If you want it more exactly: 5 teaspoons (10g) for 0,2 – 1 litre of water. Let it infuse up to 5 minutes. On hot days in the summer you can drink it as iced tea with a few drops of lemon in it.
- To treat skin irritations, injuries or foot fungus you make a stronger brew. Take 10g of Cistus, pour 100 – 200ml of boiling water and infuse for 5 minutes. You can use the brew for about 2 days if you keep it in the fridge. Wet a cloth or cotton wool to treat the skin.
For the tea lovers: Enjoy!
For the coffee fans: Close your eyes and think of … your health.
25/08/2019 at 10:58 pm
Do you know how long you can store the brewed tea, for oral consumption, in the refrigerator? If I make a large batch, for the family to use throughout the week, can the brewed tea be used that long when in the fridge?
Thanks so much,
26/08/2019 at 8:27 am
Hi Jerri, I would not store the brewed tea for a whole week. With 2 or 3 days you are probably on the safe side.
10/04/2020 at 2:46 pm
Do you know what’s the best time to harvest the plant? Because that special resin “labdanum” is only produced only in the hot months of summer and when, unfortunately, the flower of the plant is gone!
Any suggestions please?
12/04/2020 at 7:08 pm
The best time to collect is in April and May when the Cistus blossoms, or just before the flower is opening. Not all the Cistus varieties produce labdanum but I have collected cistus with this sticky resin in some parts of Kefalonia when it was blossoming in May.
19/05/2020 at 12:21 am
Hi can i use the whole plant for thee? Or only leaves? Thank you
20/05/2020 at 3:16 pm
You can use the whole plant. Leaves, flower and stem.
10/06/2020 at 12:06 pm
Thanks for your informative well written article. I live in Ibiza and There’s Cistus all over the hillside outside. It’s a bit late to harvest according to your article, the flowers are gone. However I made the tea with fresh leaves, nice colour, almost no taste. Is this because I didn’t dry it? Do I need to add the stems? I’ll experiment. thanks again.
10/06/2020 at 1:26 pm
Dried Cistus has a stronger taste. If you use fresh leaves you need a bigger amount of leaves. You can add the stems if you want and if they are not wooden yet (as it is quite late in the season).
28/06/2020 at 11:47 pm
Hi, I have started making tea out of Cistus ‘purpureous’ – pinky purple rock rose with dark flecks near the centre of the flower. Is this still Cistus Incanus? Does it have the same health benefits?
29/06/2020 at 8:04 am
As far as I know, only Cistus Incanus has the described health benefits.
01/01/2021 at 2:50 pm
Once it is dried, can it be stored indefinitely? How can you tell if it is no longer beneficial to drink? Thanks!
01/01/2021 at 3:18 pm
I am not really sure how long you can store the dried Cistus. Usually, I use up the Cistus until next year’s harvest.
01/12/2022 at 5:03 pm
Hello, I read that this tea should never be boiled because it will kill all the good stuff. But you say to boil it for 5 minutes, so I’m a bit confused.
03/12/2022 at 10:29 am
Hi Paul, you are right that the tea shouldn’t be boiling for 5 minutes. This was probably lost in translation. You pour boiling water over the Cistus and let infuse for up to 5 minutes. Thank you for pointing it out, I have worded it differently now.