My Rockrose

MyRockrose is a long waiting project, that came into the real world in 2020. It is a swirl of the MVARC endeavour (see our projects and tools) and, while challenging to start it up, the clutch is getting released and we are spinning...

In Short, What Makes Our Hydrolate and Essential Oil Special ?
(If you want more than a short, see below the long story)


It has amazing properties!: Rockrose has been used for centuries and there is extensive information around on properties and traditional use of oil and hydrolate. We like all traditional uses which are in many ways still to be supported by scientific evidence. We list here only the properties and the scientific sources supporting the properties:


Property Reference
Anti-oxidant Alsabri et al., 2012; Amensour et al., 2010; Attaguile et al., 2000Barrajón-Catalán et al., 2010; Loizzo et al., 2013; Sadhu et al., 2006; Teixeira et al., 2007
Anti-bacterial Barrajón-Catalán et al., 2010Barros et al., 2013; Ferreira et al., 2012; Tomás-Menor et al., 2013Xavier et al., 2021
Anti-fungal Barros et al., 2013
Anti-viral Abad et al., 1997
Anti-cancer Barrajón-Catalán et al., 2010
Anti-inflammatory Adadi et al., 2022El Hamsas El Youbi et al 2016
Analgesic El Hamsas El Youbi et al 2016
Anti-hypertensive Belmokhtar et al., 2009
Coronary heart diseases and diabetes El Kabbaoui et al., 2017

Essential Oil:

Property Reference
Anti-oxidant Xavier et al., 2021
Anti-bacterial Chinou et al., 1994; Bouamama et al., 1999; Barrajón-Catalán et al., 2010; Barros et al., 2013; Xavier et al., 2021
Anti-viral Droebner et al., 2007; Ehrhardt et al., 2007
Anti-fungal Chinou et al., 1994Bouamama et al., 1999Barrajón-Catalán et al., 2010 Barros et al., 2013
Anti-cancer Chinou et al., 1994; Demetzos et al., 1994, 2001; Dimas et al., 1998; Dimas et al., 2006; Hatziantoniou et al., 2006; Barrajón-Catalán et al., 2010; Skorić et al., 2012;Xavier et al., 2021
Spasmolityc Attaguile G. et al 2004
Seed Germination inhibitor Verdeguer et al., 2012
Anti-Inflamatory  many websites and sellers report analgesic properties of the essential oil, but we are having problems finding a single scientific paper on this one (and we search in more than 85 million papers). The reported anti-inflamatory property seems to be from the hydrolate. if you find a scientific paper, let us know.
Analgesic Same as above


Organic Certified

Our H&EO of Rockrose is sourced from plants nurtured in pristine, chemical-free environments, resulting in a product that is not only beneficial for your skin and well-being but also contributes to the preservation of our fragile ecosystem.

Tailor-made freshness

We offer/prefer the option to pre-order our H&EO, customized to your specific needs. By planning our business operations in harmony with nature's rhythm, we ensure that your order aligns with our harvest, guaranteeing you the freshest hydrolate possible. Whether it's for personal use or business ventures, a pre-order from you will reflect in our commitment to provide you with a product that's as vibrant and pure as the landscapes from which it originates. Mind that production season is approx between May and September. Talk to us if you are planning your orders for next year.

Harvested with Regenerative Agriculture

Through regenerative agriculture, we work in harmony with nature, actively restoring and revitalizing the land we manage. By supporting us, you become a part of this positive change, promoting resilient agricultural landscapes even in the face of climate change hotspots.

Harvested with Sustainable Management

Although rockrose plants are wild, they are harvested methodically, i.e. same areas harvested are only visited 2-3 years after. The harvest is always done after flowering to promote polinators feeding feast, essencial to the balance of the ecossystem.

100% Pure Natural Ingredients

Our commitment to purity means you can enjoy the goodness of nature without any additives or artificial substances. Each package of our H&EO contains only the essence of Rockrose in its truest form, free from harmful chemicals and additives. 

Promoting Resilient Agricultural Landscapes

By choosing our H&EO, you become an advocate for local farmers and the communities they support. Together, we pave the way for a more sustainable future, where regenerative agriculture thrives even in challenging environments. One of our goals is "no bare soil", a current practice depleting soils in our region for decades.

Carbon-Free Commitment

At MVARC, we are passionate about providing a step further in our sustainability journey by ensuring our products are carbon-free through innovative practices. We are currently calculating our carbon footprint (stay tuned for updates) but keep these insights from our system:

  • The Power of Agroforestry: We believe in the power of agroforestry to fight climate change and create a positive impact on our environment. For every H&EO you buy, we invest in maintaining and nurturing our agroforestry trees, instead of over-thinning promoted by bio-energy companies. These trees act as natural carbon sinks, sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while trees growth, and also provide a wide range of ecosystem services (soil protection, water conservation, biodiversity improvement, and so on). Every year, our agroforestry system stores about 136 tons of CO2, which is way more than enough for offsetting our emission of harvesting, distilling
  • Offsetting Carbon Emissions: Through our agroforestry system, we effectively offset the carbon emissions generated throughout the production and distribution of our products. This means that by choosing MyRockrose H&EO, you are not only treating yourself to the pure essence of Rockrose but also actively contributing to a healthier planet. 
  • Calculation of Carbon Balance: We are currently undergoing an assessement of our H&EO carbon balance. To unveil a bit our first figures, our agroforestry system is currently sequestering every year, about 136 tons of CO2, which is way more than enough for offsetting the H&EO produced. To have an idea this sequestration levels of our agroforestry would allow us to offset carbon emissions for more than 200 000 lliters of hydrolate, and trust us, we are way far away to produce that ammount! Although we are undergoing the carbon balance calculations, we trust that our system is actually carbon negative (we sequester more that we emit). Stay tuned and we will keep you posted on the latest assessments (its also what we, at MVARC, llike to do)

Southeast Portugal's Treasure

Embrace the essence of Portugal's majestic landscapes with every spritz. The unique climate and natural beauty of the region infuse our H&EO with a touch of magic that will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Sustainable Sourcing

Our commitment to sustainability extends to every aspect of our assembly, from local sourced packaging (our glass comes from Marinha Grande) and also using Bag-in-Box solutions, known by its eco-frindliness.

Embrace Nature, Empower Change

Join us on our mission to promote resilient agricultural landscapes, fight climate change, and embrace the true essence of nature. Together, we can create a world where harmony between human endeavors and the environment is possible.

Get Involved

MyRockrose project is trying to prove that we can learn with the endogenous and resilient Rockrose (Cistus ladanifer L.), loved by some, not so loved by others (explained below). This project produces 100% pure organic Hydrolate and Essential Oil (H&EO) of Rockrose and there are many reasons to buy this product. In fact, so different that goes beyond the wonderful properties of both products, especially the hydrolate. From anti-wrinkle, skin treatment, aromatic mind journeys to benefitting a whole ecossystem with social implications.

Peek our hydrolate flyer


More in Depth of What Makes Our Hidrolate and Essential Oil Special ?

Here's the full story behind, if you can bare some minutes of your time. Our background is research, so bare with us if we exaggerate in some details.

Rockrose has been present in our landscapes for centuries! In the last century was a valuable firewood resource due to its high wood density (try throwing a stick in the water and see what happens! - it sinks!). We still use rockrose as fire starter, that brings us an aromatic journey to old times. Rockrose is extremely resilient and it is very successful in our enviroment, reaching 40+ oC for weeks during summer. Sometime we wonder how is that possible (when there are 40+ oC in the shaded thermometer, there are  55+ oC in the open field!) 


Rockrose plays an important funtion in the ecossytem balance, by holding soil structure, maintain micro, meso and macro biological activity under and above-ground, increase water infiltration, reduce water losses in the system by reducing the vapour pressure deficit  (by reducing radiation reaching the soil and b) reducing wind speed near soil)


Changing business as usual 

For a few years now we have decided to replace a "business as usual" practice in the region: Complete removal of shrubs with a disk harrow (every 4-5 years)

This practice is known to promote a series of degradation processes (read below) but is preferred my many because it reduces the cost of maintenace of the Good Agricultural and Environment Conditions (GAEC) that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) requires. While the disk harrow alows revisiting the same area every 4-5 years, the maintenance of GAEC with a shrub chain/blade cutter doubles the cost because you need to subcontract the service every 2 years.

We moved from removal to maintenance of an evergreen cover in the soil

No-till agriculture is a big challenge when farming in clayey soils [ref] but we don’t want to start an interesting discussion around that subject. The fact  is that we virtually don’t use the disk harrow anymore (except for maintenance of fire fight access) and we control the shrub growth by cutting them to about 30-40 cm of height.

When coppiced, the rockrose sprouts again, more vivid and full of energy. 


A word or two on tilling and its effects on soil degradation

Soil is different than dirt. Dirt is inert and soil complies much more than the soil textural triangle we learn at school/university. There is a wide range of macro and micronutrients that interact with biological activity. And this activity occurs below and above ground, with nano, micro meso and macro biota, such as bacteria, fungi spores, mycorrhizae, paramecia, earthworms, ants, snakes, plants, birds, insects and mammals… (side note: you can check the bio-wonderland we live on with the help of GBIF - we actually use iNaturalist to feed GBIF database - have a look of our 250+ species plus 120+ birds and counting). When soil is tilled, almost all the relationships occurring since the last disruption are broken, a) soil becomes exposed to variables and radiation, b) galleries and soil structure is broken, c) becoming homogeneous and impermeable, d) promoting run-off depleting top nutrients, e) carbon is released by decomposition of plant material. Soil f) becomes exposed to water erosion, especially in more “drastic event” driven rain patterns, and g) also exposed to wind erosion, an understated depletion that specialises on top soil nutrients, where they are more needed. Then, some more depletion processes start to build up. When vegetation is removed, wind speed increases and more radiation is reaching the soil. These two together, cause higher vapour pressure deficit (so called evaporative demand), that “pulls” water into the atmosphere (check the Penman-Monteith equation, page  on one of the best FAO report ever made), h) depleting even more the current scarce water resource. And we haven’t mentioned all the biological activity impact that a) to h) have. But we don’t want to deplete your patience on all these physical impacts on micro-meso-macro biodiversity (actually very little is known or understood!). But be assured that every “small” living being can have an impact on all relationships and trophic chain balances, under and above-ground. 

Business as usual practices of over-shrub control bringing bare soil (A), comply with “Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions” from the Common Agricultural Policy. During summer, bare soil exposed to radiation and regular constant wind, decreases even more the scarce water availability by increasing vapour pressure deficit in the air. Erratic rain events in autumn, with virtual no vegetation that could promote infiltration, triggers run-off building up "chocolate rivers" (B) washing away all the topsoil nutrients. A cyclic soil empoverishment is established.


Still reading this?

If you are still reading this, you are surviving to the depths of the understanding of our system and by now you should start understanding a little more why we don’t use our disk harrow anymore. And you might start getting a glimpse why buying our rockrose H&EO is so important. Productivity without depleting our resources is of extreme importance to the system's sustainability.

The step to move towards organic production was natural. If we wanted to sell a product we will meet the customer demanding organic products. It was not difficult to certify organically, and we wanted to be part of the European Commission goal to have 25% of farmland under organic systems by 2030.  So that box is checked on our side.

As mentioned before, coppicing the rockrose instead of tilling the soil, implies doubling the cost of maintenance of low levels of biomass in the system. When we chose to non-till and cut the rock rose instead, we already had in mind that we could distil the rockrose to produce essential oil and hydrolate. We have good working, pioneering and passionate examples in the region doing so, such as Herdade Vale Covo, and D’Alenguadiana. So we thought it could be possible to move into a similar venture, with some other goals.


Knowing that essential oil and hydrolate are possible, what we really aim is to develop a land use model that transforms a “negative” into a “positive”. In other words, if we  build up a model where the farmers can actually profit from rockrose, instead of spending money with its removal (causing soil depletion - see above), we could “positively infect” the neighbourhood farmers, slowly transforming towards a more regenerative farmland, with less depletion of resources. Interestingly, in several networking activities, there has been interest by some farmers stating “It would be great if we could use the rockrose as a profitable resource. Let me know if that works, so I can do it too”.

As MVARC, an agroecology research centre, our plans are to demonstrate by example, and share the model to use as template. Make no mistake. We have a profitability goal. Without it the model does not work (at least for the majority of land owners/managers). This profitability is also essencial for us to strategically diversify our income, currently biased towards research funding. When you buy our H&EO you are contributing to the model of change towards a more sustainable use of farmland, resilient, adapted to climate change by using an endogenous species and by maintaining all the environmental sustainability of the non-tilled system.


We keep an inventory of our agroforestry system. We know how many trees, their height and diameters and we have an estimated 136 tons of CO2 sequestered every year. More than enough to offset  carbon emissions of the hydrolate and essential oil production

Agroforestry as key role

Our rockrose grows in an agroforestry system. And we love it! (you'll understang why by looking at our current projects) The agroforestry system enables you to not have a carbon neutral product, but also a carbon negative! Trees play an important role in our system for several reasons: 

  • They are one of the rare elements of greenness in the summer, wen we harvest
  • They provide us shade, reduce temperature and add a bit of mist in the early mornings
  • they improve infiltration of water which otherwise would runoff in the more frequent erratic pouring rainy events
  • protect against water erosion (rill and inter-rill), keeping the scarce nutrients in the soil
  • They reduce wind speed (see impacts above ref) keeping the landscape less arid
  • They enable us to be carbon negative. We have all our trees logged and we know their height (we flew a drone on them). By sampling its diameter and height, and with some mathematical equations of we know how much CO2 we sequester every year (about  tons) by considering an average growth of the forest in 0.5% (about 4.5 cm in height and 1.5 mm in width). No, we didn’t made a mistake… They grow really slow! We are in an extreme environment :)
    We are currently undergoing an assessment of our H&EO carbon balance. But to unveil a bit our first figures, our agroforestry system currently sequesters every year, about 136 tons of CO2, which is way more than enough for offsetting the H&EO produced. To have an idea, these sequestration levels allow us to offset carbon emissions for more than 200 000 litres of hydrolate, and trust us, we are way far away from producing that amount! Although we are undergoing the carbon balance calculations, we have no doubts that our system is  carbon negative (we sequester more that we emit). Stay tuned and we will keep you posted on the latest assessments (it’s also what we, at MVARC, like to do)


Stay tuned! 

[to be continued...] 


Coming up sections:

Why Hydrolate success is so important

Practical challenges: Tire punctures and water consumption

Promote education, share knowledge


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Are you a product developer with hydrolate or want to explore more options that include rockrose hydrolate? If yes we would like to support your creative project. We often provide material for free to support your product development. We love to co-create! Please contact us for any inquiries (see bottom of this page).


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