An evergreen shrub 2 to 4 ft high, with erect, much-divided branches, hairy and slightly viscid when young. Leaves stalkless, narrowly lance-shaped or linear, 3⁄4 to 2 in. long, 1⁄8 to 1⁄2 in. wide; tapered at both ends, three-nerved, margins incurved; dark green, hairy and much wrinkled above; grey beneath with a close, starry down, as well as hairy on the midrib and nerves. Flowers white, about 1 in. wide, arranged in a compact head borne at the end of a slender, erect, shaggy stalk. All the branches are terminated by an inflorescence, the smaller side ones of three to six flowers, the terminal one of about twice as many. Sepals five, ovate, very hairy.
Native of S. Europe and N. Africa; cultivated here in the middle of the seventeenth century. From other hardy or nearly hardy species this is readily distinguished by its narrower leaves. It is not one of the hardiest sorts, and suffers in moderately severe winters. Where it survives it makes a neat bush, remarkably profuse in blossom.
C. × nigricans Pourr. – This hybrid, believed to be C. monspeliensis × C. populifolius, was described by Rouy and Foucaud in Flore de France. Leaves lanceolate, tapered at the base to a short stalk, glabrous above, with an impressed, reticulate venation. Inflorescence a three- to six-flowered corymb; pedicels covered with a short down mixed with long, white hairs; sepals oval, heart-shaped at the base. A hybrid of this parentage would be difficult to distinguish from C. × laxus, also a hybrid of C. populifolius but with C. hirsutus as the other parent.
C. × skanbergii Lojac. – A very rare natural hybrid between C. monspeliensis and C. parviflorus described from a plant growing on the island of Lampedusa, later found by Atchley in Greece and introduced by him. It is an attractive fairly hardy cistus with grey-green foliage and small, beautiful pale pink flowers. Bot. Mag., t. 9514.
C. atchleyi Warb., nom. inedit. – The plant for which this name was proposed was found in 1929 by Shirley Atchley and Walter Ingwersen on Mt Smolikas in N. Greece at 1,500 to 2,000 ft. It appears to be closely related to C. monspeliensis, but its taxonomic status is still undecided.