The Cyprus adventure April 2014

May 3, 2014

The view crossing over the mountains

The view crossing over the mountains

 Arrived late Tuesday night. Woken slowly by sharp white sunshine streaming through the curtains and this was it – the first day of my annual adventure.

I went high into the Bes Parmak mountains to gather labdanum sap for my perfumes, because I love the scent and any excuse to fill my soul with the scent –  a balsam pine like opening, then moves into a warm, earthy tar with touches of Scottish oakmoss after rain. To me it has a hint of animal, but in truth it is a fleeting mix of all of them.

A pink cisitus flower with its tissue paper like petals

A pink cistus flower with its tissue paper like petals

Made a ladanistirio using leather thongs tied to metal T shaped device to flay the pink Cistus shrubs, breaking the stems and leaves that produce a white sap that hardens into pearl sized dark semi-solid resin beads.IMG_1511

White Cisitus flowers

White Cistus flowers


The hairy Cistus leaves

Cistus shrubs are rarely solitary, their flowers have five petals either pink or white; reddish young shoots and green hairy leaves, flowering from February onwards until later in the summer.

Despite the profuse naturally occurring Cistus right on mountain tops in blazing sun, it was too early in the season to flay. At the end of May would be a better time this year as although plants had the sharp resinous scent they didn’t produce enough of white sap as I needed.

My BBQ based lab

My BBQ based ladanistirio

Cut some Cistus to distil later in the week as semi dried plant material. As I cut the plants the scent was beautiful and had all the complex scent I know and love.

Filling my new Alembic Still with the semi-dried Cisitus

Filling my new Alembic Still with the semi-dried Cistus

Cisitus as far as you can see...

Cistus as far as you can see…

The resin was traditionally collected from the beards and thighs of goat that gazed on the cistus shrubs. The resin was used to treat various ailments such as menstrual problems, rheumatism, and common colds.

Today, the resin is mainly used in the designer perfume industry and obtained by boiling the leaves and twigs, by solvent extraction, or rarely by steam distillation – nowhere near as exciting as climbing through the mountains, flaying the shrubs or chasing goats with a nitcomb to collect the resin pearls!

I used the healing body butter with the healing soap when I was going through treatment for breast cancer; it kept my skin soft and stopped any infection. I would recommend for other women who are going through this medical procedure. Thank you. M.S Stratford

Healing body butter