Cyclamen parviflorum

Description

Flowers appear in spring, in the wild from April to June as the snow melts, dependent on altitude, in shades of pink but with a distinct blue tinge, often (faintly) scented. The corolla lobes are reflexed in subsp. parviflorum, held horizontally in subsp. subalpinum, 5-15mm long, with slightly pointed tips, 90 degrees twist and a purple zone at the base, extending into the corolla mouth.

Leaves present all year as there is no real dormant period but new leaves appear in autumn, fully developed by flowering time, round (sometimes heart shaped in subsp. subalpinum), with smooth margins, plain green with very occasional faint patterning, underside purplish, 15-35mm long, 15-35mm wide.

Tuber

Tuber a compressed sphere, small when fully grown, up to 2cm diameter, brown, smooth, with fine velvety hairs, branching thin (1mm) diameter roots arise from the centre of the underside.

Distribution

Cyclamen parviflorum grows in the Pontus Mountains, bordering the Black Sea in northeast Turkey.

Habitat

Cyclamen parviflorum grows in an area of plentiful snow, rainfall and mists from the humid air off the Black Sea, from 750-2400m, at lower elevations, subsp. subalpinum, it is a plant of open woodland, coniferous, deciduous or mixed, as long as there is humus rich soil and at higher elevations, subsp. parviflorum, it is a true alpine, found in the open in short turf.

Cultivation

Cyclamen parviflorum is frost hardy to very low temperatures but is seldom grown in the open garden in northwest Europe due to its small size. In the cold greenhouse, good drainage, regular watering and cool conditions, particularly in summer, seem to be the keys to success.


C. parviflorum subsp. subalpinum with twisted corolla
lobes, reflexed and radiating from the mouth of tube.


C. parviflorum subsp. parviflorum with tightly reflexed corolla lobes showing little or no twist.

Cyclamen parviflorum subsp. parviflorum and subsp. subalpinum

There are two seldom used subspecific epithets namely subsp. parviflorum and subsp. subalpinum, the key distinguishing feature being flower shape. Subsp. parviflorum has tightly reflexed corolla lobes with little or no twist with the sides of the lobe curled outwards to create a furrow; whereas subsp. subalpinum has more open twisted corolla lobes reflexed but more spreading, or radiating from the mouth of tube. 

The leaves are orbicular to sometimes reniform and vary with altitude, being quite small in alpine locations but somewhat larger in forest situations.

In 2002, Christopher Grey-Wilson raised his previously described variant with more-open flowers (var. subalpinum) to subspecies level as C. parviflorum subsp. subalpinum, commenting that these ’…characteristics may be related in habitat differences’. 

Whilst it is true that plants in an alpine habitat are more likely to have tightly reflexed petals, (although this is not entirely the case). It is also true that at altitude the leaves tend to be smaller than in the lower woodland populations, but the division is also problematic because there are populations that contain plants of both flower forms, at both higher and lower altitudes. Suggesting that these differences are not environmental; but that this is simply a variable species.