Cyclamen somalense

Description

Flowers appear in the wild around November, dependent on the start of the northeast monsoon, pale purplish pink with a darker pink area around the mouth of the corolla, possibly fragrant. Corolla lobes reflexed, 15-17mm long, 5-7mm wide, pointed, generally with 90 degrees twist and no auricles at the base. Unusually among cyclamen, after fertilisation the flower stalk bends back toward the base of the plant rather than coiling from the top as in most species.

Leaves appear with the flowers, heart to kidney shaped, arising straight up from the tuber, with edges curling under and irregularly toothed, silver zones and veining on a green ground, underside purplish, 3-10cm long, 4-12cm wide.

Tuber

Tuber spherical or elongated, becoming irregular with age or taking on the shape of the rock crevices in which it grows, small when mature, 3-6cm in diameter, brown, rough, rooting from the base.

Distribution

Cyclamen somalense grows in the Al Miskat Mountains of northeast Somalia, well away from the usual distribution of cyclamen species.

Habitat

Cyclamen somalense grows as part of a relict Mediterranean flora, under a climate slightly more severe than the average Mediterranean, with hotter dry summers and warm winters with lower than average rainfall but a mist zone, from 1200-1600m. It grows in water worn pockets or crevices in limestone on north facing escarpments.

Cultivation

Cyclamen somalense is not in general cultivation. There are 4 specimens in the greenhouses of Uppsala Botanical Garden in Sweden which are a single clone. Other plants with different genetic makeup having died. Therefore seed production is at best very unlikely. It is a tender plant.

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