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sao marcos da serra, park

Esteva - Queen Of The Serra

Posted by Marianne Hoesen on Saturday, August 4, 2012 Under: nature
The Esteva (Cistus ladanifer - or Gum Rock Rose) is a common wild flower in the hills of the Algarve. This evergreen shrub is so tough that it can survive extreme drought and its seeds even survive a fire. Although this shrub does not strike you as a pretty plant during the greatest part of the year, it changes into a real beauty when spring is in the air. The Esteva then produces ample delicate flowers that color the hills white. The flowers are crinkled like crape paper with 
many bright yellow stamens. Also the scent of this plant is very special and so interesting that the oleoresin (aromatic gum, known as labdanum) from the stems and the foliage has been used in the perfumery world for ages, especially as a fixative. 

Ancient civilizations also used labdnum gum to treat diarrhea, dysentery, catarrh and menstruation difficulties. It is used in aromatherapy to treat bronchitis, colds, wrinkles, depression and grief. It is highly prized as a perfume component and rock rose is used in many perfumes, lotions, cosmetics, soaps and detergents. Rock rose essential oil is antiseptic, an astringent, tonic, expectorant, balsamic and an emmenagogue (and therefore not to be used in pregnancy). The dried leaves of rock rose can be used in potpourri or burned as an incense; the scent of rock rose is rich, warming, calming and restorative.

The sticky resin is produced by boiling the plant in water to release the oleo resin. It is also possible to comb the fleece of sheep and goat herds that grazed between the esteva, rubbing up against the rock rose plants, to collect the resin.

The people of the Serra however have a very practical use for the Esteva: they use the entire shrub to heat up their fires in the winter time. As the plant does not have many roots it is quite easy to pull it out when the earth is wet after rainfall. 


In : nature 

Tags: esteva  rock rose  gum rock rose  cistus ladanifer  algarve 
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