The potential resilience of shrub species to environmental change deserves attention in those areas threatened by climate change, such as the Mediterranean Basin. We asked if leaves produced under different climate conditions through the winter season to spring can highlight the leaf traits involved in determining potential resilience of three Cistus spp. to changing environmental conditions and to what extent intraspecific differences affect such a response. We analysed carbon assimilation, maximum quantum efficiency of PSII photochemistry (Fv /Fm ) and leaf morphological control of the photosynthetic process in leaves formed through the winter season into spring in C. creticus subsp. eriocephalus (CE), C. salvifolius (CS) and C. monspeliensis (CM) grown from seed of different provenances under common garden conditions. Intraspecific differences were found in Fv /Fm for CE and CS. Carbon assimilation-related parameters were not affected by provenance. Moreover, our analysis highlighted that the functional relationships investigated can follow seasonal changes and revealed patterns originating from species-specific differences in LMA arising during the favourable period. Cistus spp. have great ability to modify the structure and function of their leaves in the mid-term in order to cope with changing environmental conditions. The Fv /Fm response to chilling reveals that susceptibility to photoinhibition is a trait under selection in Cistus species. Concerning carbon assimilation, differing ability to control stomatal opening was highlighted between species. Moreover, seasonal changes of the functional relationships investigated can have predictable consequences on species leaf turnover strategies.