Montpellier Cistus

23 September 2020
Biodiversity of the pseudo-steppe in the Park of Coastal Dunes: the Montpellier Cistus

The Regional Natural Park of Coastal Dunes 'from Torre Canne to Torre S. Leonardo' in Puglia is rich in hidden biodiversity on which LASPEH project aims to raise awareness. 

Particularly, "Sub-steppe paths of grasses and annual plants of Thero-Brachypodietea (* 6220)" is a priority habitat, based on Directive 92/43 / EEC Habitat, included into the Park of Coastal Dunes and subject to enhancement of the LASPEH project. 

In spring, along the pseudo-steppe fossil dunes and the blades, it is possible to observe the flowering of the Montpellier Cistus (Cistus monspeliensis L., 1753), a plant belonging to the Cistaceae family and to the Cistus genus.

The name derives from the Greek “kìst (h) os”, capsule, basket, with probable allusion to the shape and leathery consistency of the fruit.

It is a common species in the Mediterranean basin, with a shrubby or bushy and intensely aromatic habit. This shrub is widespread in the sunniest and most arid areas, often in blades and garrigue.

From Cistus monspeliensis a resin called "ladano" is extracted and is used today in perfumery as a fixative, even if in the past it was used to treat bronchitis and to relieve rheumatic pains.

The cistus is the typical representative of the scrub which indicates the degradation of the Mediterranean vegetation. It easily covers areas affected by fires, because its seeds have the ability to withstand high temperatures, allowing the species to rapidly colonize the area.