This perennial dwarf shrub is the only Scottish member of a mainly Mediterranean family. It grows on grassy lime-rich banks in South and East Scotland, but is absent from the North, West and Islands.
It is a low growing evergreen shrub with trailing stems. Common Rock-Rose will flower all through the summer displaying bright yellow, saucer-shaped flowers. The stems are slightly hairy, woody at the base, and low growing or angled upwards. Leaves grow in pairs on either side of the stem and are oblong, oval and blunt with smooth edges. Leaves often have short, whitish hairs beneath, giving them a woolly feel.
With 5 fragile petals that open in the sunshine then fall within a few hours, the flower has a delicate crumpled look, like tissue paper. It is about 15 – 30mm in diameter. In the middle orange spots can sometimes be seen. The flowers grow in one-sided clusters at the stem tip. Stamens are too numerous to count, very sensitive, moving apart when touched, and each carries a dusting of pollen on its anther. When bees and other insects visit and brush the stamens, the stamens bend aside so the central stigma can receive pollen from the next visitor.