C. coum ssp. coum in western Turkey. Near Havza, south-west of Samsun.

Distribution & Habitat

Cyclamen coum is found in the mountains and coastal areas that border the southern and eastern Black Sea coasts from Bulgaria in the west through Georgia and the Crimea in the east. It is also found in the Elburz Mountains of northern Iran. In southern Turkey it extends from the Hatay in southern Turkey, down the eastern Mediterranean coast through Syria and the Lebanon into Israel. It grows in shady places in coniferous and broadleafed woodland and scrub, sometimes growing amongst tree roots and rocks.

Description

Three sub-species have been described by Grey-Wilson (1997):

1. Leaves rounded to kidney-shaped, as long as wide or wider than long; petal lobes 0.8-1.4cm (0.3-0.6 inches) long, with white, occasionally very pale pink 'eyes' ..................................................................................................................................................... ssp. coum
... Leaves heart-shaped, longer than broad; petal lobes 1.2 - 2.5cm (0.5-1 inch) long, with pale to deep pink 'eyes', rarely white ................................................................................................................................................................................... 2

2. Leaf lamina generally shallowly lobed to coarsely toothed; petal lobes 1.8 - 2.5cm (0.7 - 1 inch) long .. ssp. elegans
... Leaf lamina never lobed, though often slightly toothed or scalloped; petal lobes 1.2 - 2 cm (0.5 - 0.8 inches) long ................................................................................................................................................. ssp. caucasicum


C. coum ssp. coum is found in Bulgaria; along the Western Black Sea coast of Turkey; through the Hatay, Syria, Lebanon & Israel. C. coum ssp. caucasicum inhabits the eastern Black Sea coast of Turkey, Georgia, the Caucasus, the Crimea and Northern Iran. It grows from sea level to over 2000m.

Grey-Wilson (1997) further divides ssp. coum according to the colour of the petals:

The principal difference between the sub-species is the difference in leaf shape - ssp. coum being orbicular, whilst ssp. caucasicum has more cordate leaves with less rounded and longer flowers. The Cyclamen Society expeditions to northern Turkey in 1987 & 1988 aimed to establish the geographical boundary between the sub-species, but found that altitude was also a factor - ssp. caucasicum being generally more predominant at higher altitudes and towards the east, whilst ssp. coum was more common at lower altitudes and in the west. Both subspecies have a chromosome count of 2n=30.

The form of C. coum found in the Elburz mountains of northern Iran is referred to as Cyclamen coum ssp. elegans. The flowers are significantly larger and the plants grow not only on the woodland floor but in moss on the lower branches of trees. There is evidence that it may not be so hardy as other forms of C. coum. This may be partly due to the fact that it tends to flower very early in the spring

Cyclamen coum has rounded, to more pointed leaves which vary between plain green and the totally silver-leafed form derived from BSBE518 collected by the Bowles Scholarship Botanical Expedition. Some of the most attractive leaf forms are silvered with a darker 'Christmas tree' pattern in the centre. The flowers appear over a long period from December to April, are generally pale pink to dark magenta with a crimson to purple blotch on the base of each petal.

A totally white flowered form, Cyclamen coum ssp. coum f. albissimum, was first found by Manfred Koenen in 1980, growing in the Amanus Mountains of the Hatay in Southern Turkey, between Belen and Topbogazi. Subsequently, a robust form was found growing on the Golan Heights by the Cyclamen Society 1990 expedition to Israel. This has been given the varietal name 'Golan Heights' and its progeny are now in limited circulation in the UK.

In spite of the similarities between C. coum, C. parviflorum and C. trochopteranthum, and their common chromosome count, hybrids between the species occur neither in the wild (where C. coum and C. parviflorum grow together) nor in cultivation.

Cultivation

Cyclamen coum ssp. coum will stand extremely cold temperatures in cultivation and is happy in zone 6 areas. In the USA it has flourished in a zone 4 area of New York State, surviving a prolonged temperature of -28ºC (-19ºF). Sub-species caucasicum is less resistant to extreme temperatures. It will happily grow in both shady and open situations, but will grow better in shade in hotter climates. However, it is not a woodland plant and if grown in pots, a well drained compost should be used.

Findings of the Cyclamen Society 1987, 1988 & 1990 Expeditions

Click above to see the results of the investigation into the characteristics of Cyclamen coum carried out by the Cyclamen Society's 1987, 1988 and 1990 Expeditions to Turkey and Israel. This includes analysis of the differences between ssp. coum and ssp. caucasicum.