Cyclamen africanum


Flowers appear in autumn, in the wild from September to November, dependent on the start of the autumn rains, in shades of rose pink and occasionally violet scented. The corolla lobes are reflexed, 18-35mm long, 7-12mm wide, with pointed tips and generally 90 degrees twist. Darker lines on each one merge into a V shaped zone at the nose of the flower, which has very prominent auricles.

Leaves appear late during flowering or after, dependent on the amount of rain, heart shaped to shallowly lobed, shiny, with toothed margins, and patterned in shades of green or occasionally grey, underside green but can be purplish, 5-18cm long and 5-18cm wide.


Tuber a compressed sphere, often with a dip in the top centre, large when fully grown, up to 14cm diameter, becoming rough and flaky with maturity, sometimes with floral trunks, a mat of branching thick (2mm) diameter roots arise from all over the surface.


Cyclamen africanum grows in North Africa in Algeria and Tunisia, mainly between Algiers and Tunis, from the Mediterranean Sea south into the mountainous Petite Kabylie region of Algeria and the Kroumerie range in Tunisia, where the rainfall is high enough for cyclamen. Further south, in the rain shadow of the mountains, bordering the Sahara, there is too little moisture.


Cyclamen africanum grows in a typically Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and warm wet winters. At lower levels where tree cover is rather sparse, it grows under scrub and in rocky gullies where there is partial shade, sometimes in more exposed sunny places. In the mountains it grows in woodland and at higher elevations in sparse grassland under cedar trees.


Cyclamen africanum is a tender plant, so not for outside in northwest Europe, where it is best cultivated as a pot plant in a frost-free greenhouse. The foliage of a mature specimen can easily be 50cm across. No cultivars have been named but there is a wider range of flower colour shades than in the wild (though not pure white) and leaves from dark green to heavy patterning in paler green and grey.

C. africanum is closely related to C. hederifolium. In the wild their ranges do not overlap but in cultivation they readily hybridise – C. x hildebrandii. C. africanum is generally a bigger plant, much less hardy, has a more spherical tuber, roots from the entire surface (flatter and generally bare of roots on the base in C. hederifolium) and has yellow anthers (rust coloured in C. hederifolium).