Cyclamen hederifolium is one of the most familiar species in gardens. It closely resembles both C. africanum, though their ranges do not overlap in the wild, and C. confusum, with which it is found together in the wild in the limited area of Crete where C. confusum occurs. Two subspecies are recognised, ssp hederifolium and ssp crassifolium, a plant with thicker, fleshier leaves.
Flowers appear in autumn, in the wild from August to October, dependent on the start of the autumn rains, in shades of rose pink (though pure white forms of both subspecies are known, C. h. forma albiflorum and C. c. forma virgineum) sometimes sweetly scented. The corolla lobes are reflexed, 15-23mm long, 7-10mm wide, with pointed or rounded tips, generally 90-180 degrees twist, prominent auricles at the base and a darker, reddish purple, U or V shaped zone at the nose of the flower.
Leaves, appear during flowering, extremely variable in shape, from the typical ivy leaf to broadly heart shaped or even spear head shaped, often with angular lobes, edge sometimes toothed, patterned in pale green, silver or grey on a dark green ground, underside purple or green, 3-15cm long, 2-13cm wide. Leaves of ssp crassifolium are fleshy with a shiny surface.
Tuber a compressed sphere, large when fully grown, up to 25cm in diameter, becoming rough and flaky with maturity, thick (2mm) diameter roots arise mainly from the sides, leaving the underside mostly bare.
Cyclamen hederifolium is one of the most widespread species in the wild and grows in southern France, southern Switzerland, Italy, most of the Balkans, Greece, west and south western Turkey and on many of the Mediterranean islands including Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Crete and many Aegean islands.
Cyclamen hederifolium grows in shade, in deciduous woodland, sometimes among pines or rocks under scrub, from sea level to 1300m.