|Cyclamen subsp. var.||Cyclamen|
Cyclamen is a genus of 23 species of flowering plants, traditionally classified in the family Primulaceae, but in recent years reclassified in the family Myrsinaceae (Kallersjo et al. 2000). The genus is most widely known by its scientific name Cyclamen being taken into common usage; other names occasionally used include sowbread and sometimes, confusingly, Persian violet (it is not related to the violets), or primrose (neither is it a primrose).
Cyclamen are commonly grown for their flowers, both outdoors and indoors in pots. Several species are hardy and can be grown outdoors in mild climates such as northwest Europe and the Pacific Northwest of North America.
The cyclamen commonly sold by florists is C. persicum, which is frost-tender.
Cyclamen are native to the Mediterranean region from Spain east to Iran, and also in Northeast Africa in areas such as Somalia. They are perennial herbaceous aestivating plants, with a surface or underground tuber (derived from the hypocotyl) 4-12 cm diameter, which produces leaves in late winter, and flowers in the autumn; the leaves die down during the hottest part of the Mediterranean summer drought to conserve water. Each leaf or flower grows on its own stem, which shoots up from the hypocotyl. The variegation is thought by some botanists to be a form of natural disruptive camouflage to reduce grazing damage by animals.
The hypocotyl grows leaves and flowers on stems, either one flower or one leaf per stem. The stem for leaves and flowers appears identical except in height. The leaves grow on stems of around 6 cm - 9 cm height.
The leaves grow on stems up to 8 cm tall and form a tightly bunched circular disk of leaves. Leaves are rounded to triangular, 2-10 cm long and 2-7 cm broad, and usually variegated with a pale silvery horseshoe-shaped mark round the middle of the leaf.The top of the leaf is split with the split extending to the connection with the stem. A common cultivar available in western shops has a leaves with a (slightly stretched) heart shape.
The stems for flowers rise from the middle of the disk of leaves. The stem for flowers grows up to 12 cm tall, and the end of the flowers stem curves 150 - 180 degrees downward. The flower bud terminates the stem. The various cultivars produce flowers with either four or five united petals growing from the edge of the flower bud. The petals are usually reflexed back 90° to 180° to be erect above the flower bud, and vary from white through pink to red-purple, most commonly pale pink.
Cyclamen typically grow in dry forest or scrub, where they are at least partly shaded from intense sunlight. The species vary greatly in winter frost tolerance, with the hardiest species (C. hederifolium) tolerating temperatures down to -15°C (5 °F), or -30°C (-22 °F) if covered by snow. Others, such as C. somalense from northeastern Somalia, do not tolerate any frost at all. Certain climate change models suggest many species could become extinct in their current range within the next 50 years (Yesson & Culham 2006).
Pests and diseases
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
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Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Cyclamen (classical name, probably from the Greek word for circle, in allusion to the spirally twisted peduncles). Primulaceae. Herbaceous and low plants, with a flattish tuber or corm, grown sometimes in the open and one of them much prized as a florist's and window-garden subject.
Flower single, on a scape, with usually 5-parted calyx and corolla (the parts strongly reflexed), 5 connivent stamens, with pointed sessile anthers, 1 style and stigma, and a 5-splitting caps.: lvs. cordate or reniform, long-petioled, entire or sinuate-dentate: fls. nodding or declined, purple, rose or white. — About 20 species of the Medit. region, extending to Cent. Eu. C. persicum is the source of the standard florists' cyclamens. Most of the other species are essentially outdoor plants. They are little known in outdoor planting m N. Amer., however. The European catalogues list several species aside from C. persicum, and they are here described; and others are included in the supplementary list that are recently mentioned in horticultural literature. Old English name sow-bread, from the tubers being sought by swine. Consult Fr. Hildebrand, Die Gattung Cyclamen, Jena, 1898; also Pax & Knuth in Engler's Pflanzenreich, hft. 22, 1905.
All cyclamens are very beautiful, and would be much more popular were they hardy in our eastern climate. On the Pacific slope many of them probably would be perfectly at home as outdoor plants, producing a great number of flowers above the bare soil in the depth of winter before the leaves are developed.—It is, however, with the Persian cyclamen (C. persicum), which is tender, that florists have had the greatest success. There is no common winter-flowering subject of as much value for duration in bloom, variety of coloring, or wealth of color. It is preferable at all times to begin the culture of Persian cyclamen with seeds, sown in the early winter months. Grow on without any check for the following year. They should bloom freely about fifteen months from planting. Old tubers, such as are offered in fall with other florists' bulbs, rarely give satisfaction as compared with a packet of seeds. It is not the nature of the plant to have all its roots dried off, as if it were a hyacinth or tulip. Our summers are rather too warm to suit cyclamen perfectly, and it will be found that the most growth is made in the early autumn. -It is best to give the plants a little shade in the hot months, such as a frame outdoors near the shade of overhanging trees at midday. This is better than growing them under painted glass, .as more light is available, together with plenty of fresh air on hot days. It will be found that cyclamen seeds require a long time in which to germinate,—often two months. This is due to the fact that the seed produces a bulb or corm before leaf-growth is visible. As soon as two leaves are well developed, place the plants around the edge of 4- or 5-inch pots until every one is large enough for a 3-inch pot. The roots are produced sparingly in the initial stages, and too much pot-room would be fatal at the start. By the middle of summer another shift may be given, and in September all will be ready for the pots in which they are to flower,—5- or 6-inch pots, according to the vigor of the plants. It will always be found, however, that there will be a certain percentage that will not grow, no matter how much persuasion is used. These may be thrown away, to save time and labor early in the season. In the house they should have the lightest bench. It is impossible to prow them in a warm, shady house. About 50° at night is the ideal temperature when in flower. The best soil is a fresh, tufty loam, with a fourth or fifth of well-rotted horse- manure, to which add some clean sand if the soil is heavy. At all times, the pots should be well drained.— The Giganteum strains of the Persian cyclamen produce the largest blooms, but at the expense of quantity. For the average cultivator it is better to try a good strain that is not gigantic. There is a recent departure in the form of crested flowers. Cyclamens come true to color from seeds, and one can now buy named varieties that will reproduce themselves almost to a certainty.—Of recent years cultivators have had much trouble with a tiny pest or mite that attacks the plants and renders them useless for bloom. Its work is done mostly after the plants are taken into the greenhouse and when about to mature into blooming specimens. If the first flowers come deformed or abnormally streaked with colors that are darker in shade, it is a sure indication that the pest is present. Frequent light fumigation with hydrocyanic acid gas as soon as the pest is discovered will in time eradicate it, but being very small, and able to hide under the divisions of the calyx, seldom coming out except on bright days, makes the pest a difficult one to fight. The gas cannot be used during sunshine. Tobacco stems used freely between the pots is a good preventive measure. Greenfly is likely to attack the plants at all stages of growth. In the frames the plants may be plunged in tobacco stems, and in the greenhouse they must be fumigated or vaporized with some of the nicotine extracts. Great vigilance must be exercised in growing cyclamens.
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963