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Common Rock-rose

Helianthemum nummularium

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Cistaceae (Rock-rose)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
40 centimetres tall
Gardens, grassland, heathland, meadows, rocky places, scrub, seaside.

Yellow, 5 petals
Sulphur yellow, 5 petals and 5 sepals. The flowers are 20-25mm in diameter. The similar-looking but much rarer Hoary Rock-rose (Helianthemum oelandicum) has smaller flowers (15mm in diameter).
A light brown ovoid to globular, hairy capsule. Many-seeded, 3 valves. Ripening between July and October. The seeds are smooth, brown and angular, up to 2mm across.
Dark green, narrow to oval, tiny, evergreen leaves. The leaves are arranged in short-stalked opposite pairs along the stems.
Other Names:
Flower of the Sun, Frostweed, Rockrose, Rushrose, Sun Rose.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Helianthemum nummularium, also known as rockrose or sunrose, is a flowering plant species in the Cistaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and is commonly found growing in rocky or sandy soils in full sun. The plant has small, yellow or orange flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. It is often used as a ground cover or in rock gardens. Some cultivars are available with pink or white flowers. They are hardy and drought tolerant.


Common Rock-rose, or Helianthemum nummularium, is a small, woody perennial plant that belongs to the family Cistaceae. It is native to Europe and Western Asia, but it has been introduced to many other parts of the world, including North America. Common Rock-rose is an attractive plant that is popular in gardens and natural landscapes, thanks to its beautiful flowers, easy-to-grow nature, and many health benefits.

Appearance and Characteristics

Common Rock-rose is a low-growing, woody perennial that typically grows to a height of 20-40 cm. Its leaves are small, oval-shaped, and grey-green in color, and they are covered in fine hairs. The plant produces flowers in late spring or early summer, which are usually bright yellow or white in color. The flowers are saucer-shaped and have five petals that are arranged in a star shape. They typically last for a few days and are followed by small, brown seed capsules.

Growing Conditions

Common Rock-rose is a hardy plant that can grow in a wide range of soils, but it prefers well-draining, sandy or rocky soil. It also needs a lot of sunlight, so it should be planted in a location that gets full sun exposure. The plant is drought-tolerant and does not need a lot of water once established, making it a good choice for dry gardens or areas with poor soil.

Health Benefits

Common Rock-rose has a number of health benefits, both for humans and animals. The plant has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including coughs, colds, and sore throats. It is also said to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. In addition, the plant is an important source of nectar for bees and other pollinators, making it a valuable addition to any garden or natural landscape.


Common Rock-rose is primarily grown as an ornamental plant, thanks to its beautiful flowers and low-maintenance nature. It is often used in rock gardens, as well as in borders and as a ground cover. The plant is also sometimes used for erosion control, thanks to its extensive root system and ability to grow in poor soil conditions.

In conclusion, Common Rock-rose is a versatile and attractive plant that is easy to grow and has many health benefits. Whether you are a gardener looking for a low-maintenance plant to brighten up your landscape or someone interested in traditional medicine, Common Rock-rose is a great choice. Its bright yellow or white flowers will provide a burst of color to any garden, while its hardiness and adaptability make it a great addition to any natural landscape.


Common Rock-rose is a popular plant in the gardening world due to its low maintenance requirements, but it also has some interesting ecological and cultural significance.

Ecological Significance

Common Rock-rose is an important plant for pollinators, particularly bees, butterflies, and hoverflies. Its nectar-rich flowers provide a valuable food source for these insects, which play a crucial role in the pollination of many other plants. In fact, some studies have suggested that Common Rock-rose can increase the number and diversity of bees in an area, making it an important part of efforts to conserve pollinators.

Cultural Significance

Common Rock-rose has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It is said to have astringent, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties, and has been used to treat a wide range of ailments, including diarrhea, mouth ulcers, and skin conditions. The plant has also been used in religious and spiritual contexts, particularly in the Mediterranean region. In ancient Greece, Common Rock-rose was associated with the god Apollo, and was used in religious ceremonies and festivals. In some parts of Europe, the plant is still used in traditional folk medicine and is considered a symbol of healing and protection.

In terms of landscaping, Common Rock-rose is a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of ways. It is particularly well-suited to rock gardens, where it can be used to create a natural-looking ground cover. It can also be used in borders or as a low-growing hedge, and its drought tolerance makes it a good choice for dry or sandy soils.

Common Rock-rose is a beautiful and versatile plant that has ecological, cultural, and medicinal significance. Whether you are a gardener looking for a low-maintenance plant that can attract pollinators, or someone interested in traditional medicine and cultural symbolism, Common Rock-rose is a great choice. Its bright, cheerful flowers and adaptability to a wide range of growing conditions make it a valuable addition to any landscape.

Even more..

Common Rock-rose has a long history of use in herbal medicine. It was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans for its astringent properties, and it has been used throughout Europe and Asia for centuries as a natural remedy for a variety of health conditions.

Common Rock-rose is said to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiseptic properties, making it a popular remedy for a range of conditions such as colds, coughs, sore throats, and digestive issues. It has also been used topically to treat skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and wounds.

In modern times, scientific studies have confirmed many of the health benefits of Common Rock-rose. For example, a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that the plant has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and can be used to treat various inflammatory disorders. Another study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that Common Rock-rose can help to reduce blood sugar levels, making it a potential treatment for diabetes.

Common Rock-rose is also a popular ingredient in skincare products, thanks to its astringent and antimicrobial properties. It is used in toners, cleansers, and moisturizers to help tighten pores, soothe irritated skin, and fight acne.

In addition to its health benefits, Common Rock-rose is also a valuable plant for erosion control. Its extensive root system helps to stabilize soil and prevent erosion, making it a popular choice for planting on hillsides and other areas that are prone to erosion.

Common Rock-rose is a versatile and beneficial plant that has a long history of use in herbal medicine. Whether you are looking to improve your health, your skin, or your landscape, Common Rock-rose is a plant that is well worth considering.

Common Rock-rose is a member of the Cistaceae family, which is a diverse group of plants that includes around 1,800 species. This family of plants is found in many different parts of the world, including Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa.

Common Rock-rose is a hardy plant that can thrive in a variety of conditions. It is a perennial plant that typically grows to a height of around 30-50cm, and has small, yellow flowers that bloom from May to August. The plant prefers well-drained soils and plenty of sunlight, but can also tolerate some shade.

One of the interesting things about Common Rock-rose is that it is a heliotrope, which means that its flowers track the sun throughout the day. This enables the plant to maximize its exposure to sunlight, and may also help to attract pollinators.

In terms of propagation, Common Rock-rose can be grown from seed, but it is also possible to propagate the plant from cuttings. This makes it a popular plant for gardeners, as it is relatively easy to propagate and can be used to create large, low-maintenance ground covers.

In addition to its ecological, cultural, and medicinal significance, Common Rock-rose is also a valuable plant for wildlife. The plant provides habitat and food for a variety of insects, including bees, butterflies, and hoverflies, as well as small mammals such as voles and shrews.

Common Rock-rose is a fascinating and valuable plant that has a range of uses and benefits. Whether you are interested in gardening, herbal medicine, or wildlife conservation, Common Rock-rose is a plant that is well worth getting to know.

Common Rock-rose has a number of interesting adaptations that allow it to survive in harsh and unpredictable environments. One of these adaptations is its ability to tolerate drought. The plant has a deep root system that allows it to access water even in dry conditions, and its leaves are covered in fine hairs that help to reduce water loss through transpiration.

Common Rock-rose is also able to survive in soils with poor nutrient content. The plant has a specialized root system that allows it to absorb nutrients more efficiently, and it is able to fix nitrogen from the air using symbiotic bacteria that live in its roots. This means that the plant is able to thrive in soils that would be unsuitable for many other species.

Another interesting feature of Common Rock-rose is its ability to regenerate quickly after fire. The plant is able to resprout from its root system even after a severe fire, and is often one of the first plants to recolonize burnt areas. This makes it an important component of ecosystems that are adapted to frequent fires, such as those found in Mediterranean regions.

In terms of conservation, Common Rock-rose is not currently considered to be at risk, but it is still important to protect the plant and its habitat. Habitat loss and degradation, as well as climate change, are potential threats to the species, and conservation efforts may be needed to ensure its long-term survival.

In summary, Common Rock-rose is a fascinating and adaptable plant that has a range of interesting features and benefits. Its ability to tolerate drought and nutrient-poor soils, as well as its ability to regenerate quickly after fire, make it an important part of many ecosystems. Whether you are interested in gardening, ecology, or conservation, Common Rock-rose is a plant that is well worth learning more about.


Common Rock-rose filmed at Scout Scar in the Lake District on the 26th May 2023.


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