Cyclamen coum


Flowers appear in winter, in the wild from December to April as the snow melts, dependent on altitude, from white through shades of pink to magenta, generally unscented. The corolla lobes are reflexed, 5–15mm long, with rounded or pointed tips and generally 90 degrees twist. There is a basal M shaped purple zone on each corolla lobe (absent in forma albissimum).

Leaves appear in autumn, fully developed by flowering time, round to heart shaped, with smooth or slightly toothed margins, from plain green through varying degrees of patterning in grey or silver to all over silver, underside purplish, sometimes green, 2-8cm long, 1.5-8cm wide.


Tuber a compressed sphere, often flattening on top with age, medium sized at maturity, up to 5cm diameter, brown, smooth, with fine velvety hairs, becoming purplish, green or developing hard brown skin if exposed to sun, sometimes with short floral trunks, branching thin (1mm) diameter roots arise from the centre of the underside.


Cyclamen coum grows in two separated areas: the first along the coastal area and into the mountains surrounding the Black Sea, from south of the Danube in Bulgaria via Turkey and the Caucasus to The Crimea; the second into the mountains bordering the northeast of the Mediterranean from Turkey to Israel. Some botanists consider these may be separable into more than two subspecies.


Cyclamen coum grows in areas of cooler, damper summers than typical Mediterranean, with plentiful winter rainfall, from sea level to 2150m. It is a plant of open woodland, coniferous, deciduous or mixed, as long as there is humus rich soil, but also occurs in damp spots in scrubland and rocky places and at higher elevations with greater rainfall can be found in the open in alpine turf.


Cyclamen coum is a hardy plant, excellent for the garden in northwest Europe, where conditions are similar to its native habitat. It is frost hardy to very low temperatures, down to -10C where the soil is not waterlogged. On heavy clays it grows better in raised beds or on a rockery. In the greenhouse, it seems to thrive best if watered more regularly than many other species. It is available in a wide range of cultivars. C. alpinum is related to C. coum and could be mistaken out of flower, though speckled leaves distinguish them, but in flower there can be no mistake. The wild ranges do not overlap but a hybrid – C. x drydeniae has arisen in cultivation with the corolla lobes held horizontally but with a pale basal eye.

Cyclamen coum subsp. caucasicum.

Cyclamen coum subsp. caucasicum

The northernmost populations of C. coum traverse nearly 2000km from eastern Bulgaria in the west to the Caucasus in the east. Variations in these eastern populations have been described as C. coum subsp. caucasicum. They have distinctly ovate leaves with a crenate (toothed) margins rather than the usual round or kidney shaped leaves of C. coum subsp. coum.

It must be noted that there is much variation in these populations and their characteristics overlap so the differentiation between the two sub-species is far from clear. The Cyclamen Society, in collaboration with Turkish botanists have undertaken fieldwork to study the two subspecies and research is on-going.

Cyclamen coum forma albissimum CSE15101 in the
Chak-vistskali Valley, Adjara, Georgia.

Cyclamen coum forma albissimum Ex CSE88020A

Cyclamen coum forma albissimum

Forms with pure white flowers without any markings are rare in the wild and only very occasionally turn up in cultivation. First recorded on a Cyclamen Society expedition in north-eastern Turkey and then by Manfred Koenen in  south-eastern Turkey in March 1980. An example was also found in 1990 by the Cyclamen Society in northern Israel. The petioles, pedicels and underside of the leaves may be green or light purple. Their collection and subsequent propagation have yielded some interesting cultivars.

Cyclamen coum forma palladium

Cyclamen coum forma palladium

Cyclamen coum forma palladium

A variant of subsp. coum that have white flowers with a dark lilac to dark violet basal blotch with two white spots on each petal right at the mouth of the corolla tube, described by Christopher Grey-Wilson in 1997 as C. coum forma palladium.