Cyclamen Society Field Study: Israel 1990

The Society’s first expedition to Israel was conceived following a letter from the Hebrew University,
Jerusalem, pointing out that Cyclamen coum occurred in Israel but was not recorded from
that country by Grey-Wilson (1988).
The committee considered this and asked a team to visit Israel in the spring of
1990 to study both C. coum and C. persicum.

Correspondence with botanists at the Hebrew University enabled
the team to identify three populations of C. coum in Israel. All three
are in the north of the country, the largest population is on the
Golan Heights and smaller populations are located on Mount Hermon,
on the border with Lebanon, and on Mount Meron, in Galilee. Mount
Hermon was a military zone and it proved impossible to visit that site.
However both the Golan Heights and Mount Meron were accessible
and were studied. These populations represented the most southerly
locations for C. coum at that time.

A report of the 1990 field study was published in the
Cyclamen Society Journal Vol. 14 No. 1, June 1990.

Abridged field notes referenced by site number follow this table.
Giving brief locational information and habitat data which may aid cultivation.

CSE Plants in Israel, 1990.

If plant images are available they may be viewed by clicking on the purple CSE plant number.

CSE Plant No.Site No.SpeciesCSE Plant No.Site No.Species
9050A90/01IsC. persicum9041490/11IsC. coum
9050B90/01IsC. persicum9041590/11IsC. coum
9010490/02IsC. persicum9041690/11IsC. coum
9010590/02IsC. persicum9041790/11IsC. coum f. albissimum*
9010690/02IsC. persicum90417A90/11IsC. coum f. albissimum
9010790/02IsC. persicum9041890/11IsC. coum f. albissimum
9010890/02IsC. persicum9043090/12IsC. persicum
9010990/02IsC. persicum9043190/12IsC. persicum
9011090/02IsC. persicum9043290/12IsC. persicum
9019990/03IsC. persicum9044090/13IsC. persicum
9021790/06IsC. persicum9044190/13IsC. persicum
9033690/08IsC. coum9044290/13IsC. persicum
9035190/08IsC. coum9044390/13IsC. persicum
9035290/08IsC. coum9044490/13IsC. persicum
9035390/08IsC. coum9044590/13IsC. persicum
9035490/08IsC. coum9056090/16IsC. persicum
9035590/08IsC. coum9056190/16IsC. persicum
9035690/08IsC. coum9062090/18IsC. persicum f. album
9035790/08IsC. coum9062190/18IsC. persicum f. album
9035890/08IsC. coum9062290/18IsC. persicum
9035990/08IsC. coum9065090/19IsC. persicum
9036590/11IsC. coum9065190/19IsC. persicum
9041090/11IsC. coum9065290/19IsC. persicum
9041190/11IsC. coum9065390/19IsC. persicum
9041290/11IsC. coum9065490/19IsC. persicum
9041390/11IsC. coum9068590/20IsC. persicum
* CSE90417 is the parent plant of Cyclamen coum cultivar ‘Golan Heights’.

CSE Sites in Israel, 1990.

If site images are available they may be viewed by clicking on the purple site number.


Between Tel Maresha and Bet Guvrin, east of Qiryat Gat.
Altitude: 250-300m An area of rough grassland and herbaceous vegetation with occasional shrubs and large boulders of carboniferous type limestone. Aspect: West-southwest, Slope: 1:3. Soil: A stiff clay, often waterlogged between boulders and lower on the slopes.
Habitat: Cyclamen persicum occurred most often around the edges of limestone boulders and in crevices and solution holes therein. Higher on the slope, on better drained soil, it became more common amidst grasses and other plants away from the boulders. Very large leaves were often present on plants shaded by grasses and/or shrubs.
Associated Plants: Bellevallia, Anemone coronaria, Clematis cirrhosa, Iris palaestinica, Asphodelus microcarpus, Allium neapolitanum and Ornithogalum.


On western side of the road south of Bet Shemesh, near Givat Yesha’yahu.
Altitude: 300m Mixed conifer woodland with a grassy, boulder strewn floor, dappled shade below 60% canopy where trees remained, large areas felled. Aspect: East- southeast, Slope: 1:3 overall. Soil: A thick layer of coarse humus over clay.
Habitat: Cyclamen persicum around boulders, between roots and, more rarely amongst grasses, sedges and bryophytes on the woodland floor.
Associated Plants: Colchicum and Arisarum sp.


Har Giyyora, the Ktalar Reserve near Bar Giyyora.
Altitude: 500m Vegetation of scattered garigue type scrub including Cistus, Phlomis fruticosa, Sarcopoterium spinosum, Pinus, Quercus and Prunus amygdalus, sparse herbs and bulbs including Anenome coronaria Ornithogalum and two sp of Bellevallia. Aspect: Southwest, Slope: 1:1. Soil: A gritty calacreous clay with extensive bare patches and outcropping boulders.
Habitat: The whole area appeared as if terraced as result of the naturally outcropping horizontally bedded limestone. Cyclamen persicum growing in open situations, although occasionally shaded by low scrub, usually along the bedding planes of the limestone at the base of outcrops or in crevices and solution hollows. Along the roadside a number of tubers bore yellow leaves, probably the result of herbicides. Many individual tubers were large, up to 8cm diameter, with as many as 5 floral trunks (usually closely packed around the centre of the tuber).


Near Eshta’ol, north of Bet Shemesh where the road (no. 44) to Tel Aviv leaves road no. 38 to Jerusalem.
Altitude: 200m Planted pine wood with some glades. Virtually no herb layer in the deeply shaded parts below a 100% closed canopy with a thick layer of decomposing needles which was obviously discouraging seedings. Open glades appeared to be relics of garigue type scrub with a few invading woodland grasses. Aspect: South, Slope: 1:3. Soil: A gritty clay that appeared highly water retentive despite the slope, a few boulders of carboniferous type limestone emerging.
Habitat: Cyclamen persicum most abundant in open areas at the edge of the woodland where grass was thin and where the pines were regenerating, often between and at the base of boulders, especially if there were locally steep slopes of bare clay. In these positions C. persicum was regenerating freely. In the open glades a few persicum survived in herbaceous vegetation but no seedlings were noted. Within the woodland there were scattered tubers bearing large leaves but few flowers. Seedlings of persicum 1 or 2 years old were however abundant often in needle litter up to 9cm deep. One representative colony comprised: 3 adult plants, 2 seedlings near flowering, and 42 other seedlings. Over the woodland floor as a whole, persicum seedlings were widely scattered at about 2 per square metre, away from adult plants. A few plants of Ornithogalum and Anenome coronaria appeared to be relics of pre-afforestation communities. Within the woodland, persicum had large leaves (one with leaves 170 x 152 mm) with greenish yellow marbling.


Just north of Abu Ghosh.
Altitude: 625m. Scruffy, litter ridden area of scrub. Cyclamen persicum frequent, seldom in flower. Aspect: northwest facing Slope: of 1:5.


John G. Diefenbaker Parkway On the Tel Aviv to Jerusalem road west of Abu Ghosh.
Altitude: 625m. An area of garigue scrub and adjacent Pinus woodland. Aspect: North-northwest, Slope: 1:7 in scrub, East-southeast and 1:3 in woodland. Soil: Clay over limestone with leaf or needle litter. Limestone outcropped in wood. Cyclamen persicum abundant in scrub although only around 33% tubers flowering. Few seedlings could be found. Scattered C. persicum in the woodland.


Quneitra. Near junction of road 808 from Ramat Magshimim and road 87 from Tiberias to road 98 and Quneitra.
Altitude: 850m. An open field, cattle grazed, grasses with boulders and stoney patches. Scattered Cyclamen persicum amongst grasses with Asphodelus microcarpus, Ferula commune, Veronica aegyptica and Biarum sp. Aspect: southwest, Slope: Very gentle slope of 1:30.


Har Odem, Between Mas’ada and Quneitra, in ‘woods’ west of road.
Altitude: 1050m. Heavily grazed scrubby woodlands of Quercus callyprinos and Q. boisseri. Aspect: Overall north-northwest Slope: Gentle slope of some 1:20/30. Soil: A coarse terra rossa clay with outcrops of basaltic lavas and extensive areas strewn with loose stones of varying sizes. Extensive grazing by sheep, goats and cattle.
Habitat: Cyclamen coum mostly found around tree boles, in between stones and within heavily browsed clumps of dense Quercus scrub.
Associated plants: Allium, Ornithogalum lanceolatum, Arum, Iris histrioides, Muscari, Clematis.
C. coum was not occurring in dense stands – typically between 3 and 8 plants per sq. m. giving perhaps 10% cover – and appeared not to be giving rise to many seedlings. A single stand containing 30 flowering tubers contained only 15 non-flowering seedlings. Nonetheless, large populations were present, one large stand, approx. 70m x 30m., contained an estimated 600 adult plants and 250 seedlings. Within this stand some small areas had as much as 25% cover by C. coum.


Mas’ada. An extension of site 90/08Is to a distance of 4km from Mas’ada along the same road.
Altitude: 1050m. An area exactly comparable in terms of vegetation, soil and geology to site 90/08Is and continuous with it.


El Rom, Mas’ada. An extension of the same forest as sites 90/08Is and 90/09Is, north of road connecting roads 98 and 978, near El Rom.
An area of the same forest as sites 90/08Is and 90/09Is, investigated only to determine the extent of Cyclamen coum in the forest. Evidence of slightly higher soil nutrient and slightly less intensive grazing. A fine stand of Iris histrioides was noted, but no Cyclamen.


An extension of sites 90/08Is, 90/09Is and 90/10Is. From Mas’ada along the road to Odem and El Rom.
Altitude: 1125m. An area exactly comparable to the three preceding sites in vegetation, soil and geology. Aspect: north-northwest. Slope: Level.
Cyclamen coum occurring in comparable situations to those described for site 90/08Is. Slightly better regeneration of C. coum from seed – one stand of 48 adult plants held 27 seedlings.


On the road from Newe-Ativ to Mezudat Nimrod (Nimrod’s Castle) and Banyas.
Altitude: 1025m. Scrub dominated by Sarcopoterium spinosum. Aspect: South-southwest, Slope: 1:3 overall. Soil: calareous, terra rossa clay over limestone with substantial boulders outcropping. Other vegetation sparse.
Habitat: Cyclamen persicum not abundant but widely, if sparsely, scattered over the hillside principally in clefts and holes in the boulders, although a number of tubers were founbd buried beneath scrub and in well trodden areas beside paths. A fair proportion of pink flowered plants, one stand contained 6 pink and 12 white (with a purple nose) flowered plants.


On slopes across the main road opposite Mezudat Nimrod.
Altitude: 800m. Dense scrub of Quercus callypinos, Sarcopoterium spinosum and sundry spiny leguminous shrubs but with small open patches. Aspect: west, Slope: up to 1:2. Soil: Calacreous terra rossa clay over limestone with substantial boulders outcropping.
Habitat: Scattered specimens of Cyclamen persicum throughout the area around boulders, at the edge of scrub and, occasionally in deep shade below Quercus. Some tubers of substantial size (up to 77mm diameter) and with long floral trunks (one reaching 87mm, another 51mm). One tuber noted carried 4 seperate floral trunks.


Quibbutz Snir. Near the Israel Society for the Protection of Nature Field Station, on the road to Quibbutz Snir, east of Qiryat Shemona.
Altitude: 250m. Dense meadow-like vegetation with hazel scrub. Aspect: West-northwest, Slope: 1:3 (a roadside bank and extension into flatter neighbouring fields). Soil: A terra rossa clay with an overlying layer of closer to a brown earth, outcropping limestone on the steeper parts. Cyclamen persicum very abundant, up to 20 tubers per square metre, giving up to 35% cover, especially in the shadier parts.


Mount Meron.
Altitide: 1200m. Dense evergreen oak, very overgrown. C. coum growing in more open parts. Only about 30 plants of C. coum, growing with Iris histriodes, Sternbergiasp., Helleborus orientalis, Gagea sp., Colchicum sp. Population considered very vulnerable.


Mount Meron, near site 90/15I.
Altitude: 1200m. C. persicum growing in dense evergreen oak forest. Extensive population, plants flowering with snow & hail on ground. Growing with Ornithogalum lanceolatum, Iris histrio, Sternbergia clusiana, Hyacinthus orientalis, Gagea sp., Colchicum sp.


Mount Meron.
Altitude: 1200m. Plants growing in rock formations. Bare rocky site with C. coum & C. persicum growing within 0.5 metres of each other.


Karmel Mountain Range, East of Me-if Shefeye, in roadside gulley.
Altitude: 25m. Roadside gully, to north side of road, and slope above. C. persicum growing with Gynandriris sisyrinchium.


North-northeast of Jericho.
Altitude: 550m. Plants growing inside rocks. Small colony of autumn flowering plants surrounded by ‘normal’ spring flowering C. persicum.


Har Gilou, East Face.
Altitude: 800m.

Acknowledgements. We would like to thank Mr Ori Fragmann and Prof. Avi Schmida, Department of Botany, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, for their help and support before and during the Field Study.