Thursday, 3 February 2011

Labdanum (cistus ladaniferus, Spain)(cistus creticus ladaniferus, Crete)

Labdanum (cistus oil) is obtained as a gum by boiling the leaves of Rock Rose (Cistus) and then distilling to obtain the oil. The gum is combined as an incense of frankincense, myrhh and galbanum.  Cistus is a very useful oil.  Labdanum is used as a fixative in perfumery with the aroma seen as an alternative to ambergis a natural product obtained from whales collection of which is now banned. Blended with sage and lavender it is an effective treatment for bedsores (Mailhebiau). 

This oil is produced mainly in Spain. Here is an excellent photo guide to Labdanum from leading producer/wholesaler Biolandes who supply a number of Shirley Price oils.

There is a traditional area of production in Crete where the gum is collected by the traditional method of a hefty worker passing strips of material over the Cistus plants in the heat of the day when the gum exhudes naturally from the leaves. 

Goats again? Remember goats contribution to the production of Argan? Goats grazing on the Cistus plants get the gum on their beards. There was a trade at one time in these gummy goat beards.  Indeed the story goes that the artificial beards of the egyptian pharoahs were made of these goats beards which is perhaps a visible sign of the importance of aroma products in ancient Egypt court and religious life.


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