Cyclamen hederifolium


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.


Cyclamen hederifolium is a hardy plant to very low temperatures and very suitable for the garden in northwest Europe where it is widely grown. There are plenty of cultivars both for colour, leaf shape and patterning, including some with purple or pink suffusion of the upper surface.

Cyclamen hederifolium subsp. crassifolium
Ex CSE 93159

Cyclamen hederifolium subsp.
crassifolium Ex CSE 93073

Cyclamen hederifolium subsp. crassifolium
Ex CSE 93623

Cyclamen hederifolium subsp. crassifolium
Ex Zakynthos

Cyclamen hederifolium subsp. crassifolium

This subspecies, originally recognised by Friedrich Hildebrand, Professor of Botany at Freiburg University who regarded it as sufficiently different from C. hederifolium to merit description as a species C. crassifolium (Hildebrand 1907).
For nearly a century this was either disregarded or simply overlooked, and generally dismissed as an unidentifiable obscure name. Following recent research by Cyclamen Society members in collaboration with Reading University, this Peloponnesian variant now has recognition as C. hederifolium subsp. crassifolium.

Leaves are noticeably thicker, fleshier and often have a somewhat shiny appearance when compared with subsp. hederifolium, they can also exhibit a distinctive angular shape. Flowers in shades of pink typical for the species.
A totally white-flowered form has been recorded in a wild population near Milia, Greece and described as C. hederifoliumsubsp. crassifolium forma virgineum.

Cyclamen hederifolium forma albiflorum

Cyclamen hederifolium subsp. hederifolium forma albiflorum 

Any otherwise un-named C. hederifolium with pure white flowers would probably be given the cultivar name ‘Album’ but should properly be referred to by the valid botanical status C. hederifolium forma albiflorum.