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Mostly Mediterranean, this is a small family of ornamental species, a few of which are naturalised along roadsides in South Australia; they may perhaps be met with as garden escapes elsewhere in southern Australia.

Characteristic features of the family Cistaceae in Australia include:

  • small shrubs with simple, opposite, resinous-aromatic leaves, often with stellate hairs
  • flowers in cymes, showy, with 5 crepe-like, white or pink petals, and sepals of two different sizes
  • stamens numerous
  • fruit a capsule with many small seeds


Evergreen shrubs. Internal secretions not obvious. Plants with simple or stellate, non-glandular, multiseriate hairs. Leaves opposite, sessile. Stipules absent. Lamina simple, symmetric, lanceolate, ovate, elliptic or oblong; base cuneate or rounded; margins entire, ±flat; venation pinnate, or parallel, with the midrib conspicuous, the tertiary venation not reticulate; surfaces not punctate; herbaceous. Plants with all the flowers bisexual. Inflorescences terminal, consisting of cymes. Bracts absent. Bracteoles present or absent. Pollination by insects. Flowers odourless; stalked. Floral disc present; nectaries present on the disc. Perianth of 2 dissimilar whorls, imbricate in bud. Calyx regular or irregular; segments free, with 3 or 5 sepals, herbaceous. Corolla regular; segments free, with 3 or 5 petals, with no clear relationship to the sepals, white; without contrasting markings, membranous; claws absent; lobes ±entire. Fertile stamens numerous, not clearly correlated with the sepals, free of the corolla, free of the ovary and style, distinct from each other, all ±equal. Anthers basifixed, not versatile, opening sideways by longitudinal slits; 2-celled. Ovary superior and sessile. Carpels 5, fused; ovary with 1 locule. Style terminal, single, unbranched and the stigma capitate. Ovules numerous, sessile; placentation parietal. Fruit a dry, dehiscent loculicidal capsule; the perianth on the maturing fruit deciduous or dry and persistent. Disseminule micro-surface ±reticulate, brown, glossy. Seeds numerous per fruit. Aril absent. Cotyledons 2. Embryo curved or coiled.
(Note: this description has been generated from the coded data compiled for the key. Any errors in the key data will be reflected in the descriptions.)

A treatment of the family Cistaceae has been published in:
Flora of Australia 8: 88.

Australian genera of Cistaceae (as recognised for the Flora of Australia)

* = all species introduced


Cistus sp. (flower)
Photo: anon NSW National Herbarium