Rockroses

In my neighborhood, still blooming at the beginning of November, some bright-red variety of rockrose (rock-rose, rock rose), possibly the Helianthemum cultivar ‘Ben Mohr’:

Many plants in the Cistaceae, or rock rose family, have gorgeous flowers.

Rockroses have come up in a Language Log posting of mine about resembloid compounds, where I wrote:

A daylily (genus Hemerocallis) is not a lily (genus Lilium), but it looks pretty much like one.  A rockrose (genus Cistus) is not a rose (genus Rosa), but its flowers are very rose-like.  A California lilac (genus Ceanothus) is not a lilac (genus Syringa), but it’s a shrubby plant with lilac-colored flowers in clusters; that is, a California lilac is a lilac-like plant that’s connected in some way to California.

On the family, from Wikipedia:

The Cistaceae are a small family of plants (rock-rose or rock rose family) known for their beautiful shrubs, which are profusely covered by flowers at the time of blossom. This family consists of about 170-200 species in eight genera, distributed primarily in the temperate areas of Europe and the Mediterranean basin, but also found in North America; a limited number of species are found in South America. Most Cistaceae are subshrubs and low shrubs, and some are herbaceous. They prefer dry and sunny habitats. Cistaceae grow well on poor soils, and many of them are cultivated in gardens.

They often have showy yellow, pink or white flowers, which are generally short-lived.

The genus Cistus is the type genus for the family, but there are other genera, in particular Helianthemum. From Wikipedia:

Helianthemum …, known as rock rose, sunrose, rushrose, or frostweed, is a genus of about 110 species of flowering plants in the family Cistaceae. They are widely distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere, especially in the Mediterranean.

… Several Helianthemum species, and the numerous hybrids and cultivars derived from them, are widely grown as ornamental plants, popular in rockeries. A broader range of colours is available among the cultivars, including bright salmon-pink to dark red. They are best grown in well-drained soil in full sun, and have a long flowering period from spring to summer.

The etymology, from OED2:

modern Latin (J. P. de Tournefort Elemens de Botanique (1694) I. vi. 214), < Greek ἥλιος sun + ἄνθεμον flower

That is, the helio– ‘sun’ root (as in heliocentric) plus the anthem– ‘flower’ root (as in chrysanthemum).

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