Latin name Cistus ladanifer – Family species Cistaceae

The Labdanum plant is also referred to as Cistus and Rock Rose, and Labdanum oil is also known as Cistus oil.

“The oil distilled from the resin has a warm, dry, woody-spicy musk odor which diffuses well. It is the best natural substitute for sperm whale ambergris, and the scent is widely used as an erogenous fixative in perfumes, aftershaves, and cosmetics. Tests show no irritation at 8 percent dilution, but very weak sensitizing above 0.25 percent.” –Crabtree & Evelyn Fragrant Herbal: Enhancing Your Life with Aromatic Herbs and Essential Oils

Labdanum should not be confused with Laudanum, which is a tincture of opium.

Oil Selection Guide

Color – Dark yellow to amber
Viscosity – Viscous
Scent – sweet, warm, dry, herby
Perfume Aroma – Base to middle note

Oil Source Information

Plant Type – Shrub
Parts Used – Gum, absolute, leaves and twigs
Countries of Origin – France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Morocco, Cyprus, Yugoslavia (former)
Extraction Method – Steam distillation

Known Chemical Constituents

camphene, sabinene, myrcene, phellandrene, limonene, cymene, cineol, borneol, nerol, geraniol, fenchone

Applications and Uses

Used somewhat in aromatherapy, Labdanum is also used as fixative and fragrance in perfumes, colognes, lotions, powders, soaps, detergents, and aftershaves. Also as flavoring in commercial food (especially meat, ice cream, and candy) and drink.

Labdanum blends well with


Precautions / Contraindications

Warnings state that Labdanum oil should be avoided during pregnancy, and that it should only be used in moderation (if at all).
Labdanum oil will stain, so don’t apply to clothing or fabric.
See also Essential Oils Safety and Usage.

References and Resources

See Aromatherapy References and Resources page.

Other Links of Interest

Perfumes, fragrances, and colognes that have notes of labdanum — some even have it right in the name!

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