Distribution & Habitat

Cyclamen hederifolium has a wide distribution stretching from southeastern France, through Italy, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, (including Crete and many of the Aegean Islands) and western Turkey. It inhabits woodland, garigue, maquis, scrub, and rocky hillsides from sea level to 1300m (4,262 ft).

Description

C. hederifolium has pink flowers with a purple-magenta V-shaped blotch at the base of each petal, which appear between August and October in the northern hemisphere. There is also a white flowered form which is now common in cultivation, but scarce in the wild. The flowers appear either before, or with, the young leaves which are often ivy-like as suggested by the specific epithet. However, the plant is very variable and the leaves can be every shape from almost orbicular to lanceolate. Leaves vary from dull or bright plain green to plain silver with various forms of hastate pattern in between, with the pattern in silver, grey, cream or merely a different colour green. The tuber roots from its top surface and sides. Chromosome count: 2n=34, 2n=68 or 2n=102.

Although the name Cyclamen hederifolium Aiton (1789) has prior claim, the plant was for many years known in horticulture as Cyclamen neapolitanum Ten. (1813), and this name erronously persists today in some nurseries.

In 1997, Grey-Wilson revised the classification of the species, identifying two varieties. This recognised that populations in the southern parts of its range, particularly Sicily, Crete and the Mani Peninsula of the Peloponnese differ from other forms and also appear to be tetraploid. This gave us:

1. Leaves generally rather deep green or grey-green with a well-marked hastate patternm scarcely shiny above and beneath; lamina longer than wide, angled or shallowly lobed and finely toothed; petioles mostly 1.5-2.5mm (0.06-0.1 inches) in diameter: C. hederifolium var. hederifolium ........................................................ 2
... Leaves bright green with a poorly defined hastate pattern, thicker and fleshier, shiny, particularly beneath; lamina often as long as wide, sometimes wider than long, and generally broadest at or close to the middle, shallowly 5(-7)-lobed with rather obscure, blunt marginal teeth; petioles 2.5-4mm (0.1-0.16 inches) in diameter .....C. hederifolium var. confusum

2. Flowers pale to deep pink to reddish-purple, with deep purple-magenta markings at the base of each petal lobe ................................................................................ C. hederifolium var. hederifolium forma hederifolium
... Flowers pure white, sometimes with pale pink in the throat, petals unmarked ... C. hederifolium var. hederifolium forma albiflorum

Cultivation

C. hederifolium is the most reliably hardy of all the Cyclamen species, flowering well in the garden and seeding around. It grows well both in full sun and partial shade or beneath deciduous trees. It particularly enjoys growing in soil which contains a good proportion of leafmould (leaf litter). It easily survives low temperatures, and grows quite happily in a zone 4 area of New York State, USA where temperatures have reached as low as -28 ºC (-19ºF). Otherwise, it will also grow in pots under glass, tolerating this more readily than C. repandum ssp. repandum.