Cyclamen coum

Once again we are into a new year with January of to a good start with mild weather and the start of the year continuing as the old year finished with strong winds. A couple of -5 degrees. at night saw the shrubs gilded with hoar frost and looking attractive. Coming into flower are the Erica carnea cvs.with ‘King George’ outstanding as always, some snowdrops are showing colour while Hamamellis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ in full flower is spectacular and must be the finest of them all. However it is Cyclamen coum, a member of Primulaceae which is the feature this month.

 The origin of the word cyclamen is uncertain but appears to come through Latin from the Greek word kuklaminos referring to the circular roots or corm. It has quite a wide geographical spread from the mountainous and coastal areas of the southern and eastern Black Sea and from Iran, Syria, Turkey to Lebanon and into Israel not forgetting Bulgaria Georgia and into the Crimea. It grows in coniferous and broad leaved woodland and scrub including roots and rocks in shady places. In Iran, the form there grows in stony mossy areas including branches of trees. Mine is in gritty soil topped with coniferous bark and is seeding about quite happily in good light and full sun although it is out of direct sunlight after noon, I do not think that matters in Scotland or rest of the UK as its winter time and low sun intensity. 

The form I have is variable in its leaves one having a silver centre with a dark green edge to the orbicular leaves. The other form has dark green leaves with silver marbling just in side the leaf edges. Both forms have purple undersides to the leaves. Flowers most commonly are deep rose pink with purple blotches to the base with a white rim highlighting the floral tube. There are however other forms or sub species with paler pink or white flowers. One of the white forms is known as Cyclamen coum ssp. coum  f. albissimum ‘Golan Heights’ and is considered to be more robust than the type. Flowers appear from December to March April. Although covered in hoar frost the flowers remain undamaged.

James McCombe