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What species is this naturalized Cyclamen? hederifoliumcoum – feral persicum – or something else?

Could this be Cyclamen hederifolium? Perhaps it is some sort of Cyclamen coum, or possibly feral Cyclamen persicum. I really do not know. Common florists’ cyclamen is the only cyclamen that I have any experience with. I grew it as a perennial when I was in high school, but never saw any feral colonies growing from self sown seed. I have never met the other species before.

Several colonies of this naturalized species of Cyclamen grow wild in the garden of a colleague. No one knows how they got there. I noticed them while procuring specimens of what might be other species that I have been wanting to grow, even though I am not certain of their identities either. I suspect that one could be Sorbus americana, and that another could be Rhus glabra.

I have been wanting to try growing Cyclamen hederifolium or Cyclamen coum since I saw it in pictures of home gardens in other regions. It looks something like common florists’ cyclamen that I enjoyed growing so many years ago, but more natural and relaxed. As much as I like florists’ cyclamen, the brightly colored flowers look a bit too synthetic for naturalistic landscapes.

Even though interesting species of Cyclamen have been available online and from mail order catalogs for at least the past several years, I have been hesitant to try any. I just do not know if they would be happy in forested landscapes where I want to grow them. Not many perennials perform well with so much overwhelming and mildly toxic debris from redwoods and live oaks.

Now I can see that they perform well enough here to naturalize, even under big and messy coast live oaks. In fact, I am now concerned that they have potential to become invasively naturalized in surrounding forests.

8 thoughts on “Unidentified Cyclamen

  1. Diffciult to tell which species it is, but you’ll know because of the flowering season. C. coum flowers during the depths of European winter from January to March, and has dark-green leaves that are often marked with silver and white. C hederifolium flowers in early autum here before the marbled foliage appears and overwinters before disappearing. They self-seed easily. Whichever it is, unless you don’t want non-indigenous plants, I wouldn’t worry about it becoming a nuisance. In fact I encourage mine to spread far and wide. They’re very pretty, don’t interfere with other plants, & grow in the driest darkest places under hedges and thick tree canopies,where nothing else survives.

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    1. It behaves more like Cyclamen hederifolium. It already bloomed. The flowers are supposedly only slightly blushed white, rather than lavender, but that is apparently not too uncommon. The foliage is more like that of Cyclamen hederifolium too. I think that if it were feral Cyclamen persicum, it would look more like the parents.
      I am not as concerned about it being a nuisance within the garden. I am concerned with where it can go from there. Some of the gardens are on the banks of a creek that flows through forested areas where only a few exotics have naturalized so far.

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  2. It is difficult to be certain without seeing for real, and being able to touch, and feel the leaves. I can say for certain that they aren’t C. coum. That has rounded leaves, quite unlike these. The flowers of the late winter/spring flowering coum are very distinctive – like small, very square pink or white boxes.
    Mini cyclamen – small varieties of Cyclamen persicum – are very popular here in the UK, and are mistaken all the time for hardy cyclamen, until they succumb to winter frosts and snow. They are always larger in their parts, with a much more robust feel to leaves and flowers, than the hardy species.
    To me, it looks like C. hederifolium. The flowers are smaller than the mini persicums, with less fleshy petals, but are much the same overall shape. The leaf stems are thinner and less sturdy, with that tendency to kink at the base, as your picture shows. And hederifolium always has that arrow shape to the leaves. But there are others – graecum, africanum, cilicium, and cyprium to name but a few – that would survive and thrive in your neck of the woods.
    Still, I’ll stick my neck on the line and say hederifolium, an autumn flowerer.
    The seeds of all of these are spread by ants – they have a sweet, sticky coating for just that purpose. If you don’t want them to spread, just deadhead – the seeds take a long time to ripen – usually around June or July here.
    None of them cause any trouble here, with leaves disappearing for half the year, and they are fantastic grouped underneath and around trees, where little else prospers.

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    1. That is what I suspect too. They fit the description perfectly, although the flowers are more blushed white rather than lavender. To me, they do not look like Cyclamen coum, and have already bloomed. Nor to do they look like mini Cyclamen persicum. Even if they were feral cyclamen persicum, I would think that they would resemble the parents more than they do, and might still be blooming. I have not considered the other species yet. They are rare enough that it is even less likely that any of them would have naturalize here.

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    1. It is a perennial that I know nothing about, but have been wanting to try. I am pleased to see how well they do here, and am now more confident that they would be happy in some of our landscapes. Even thought they are far from native I think they would suit the understory landscapes below the redwoods splendidly.

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    1. I sort of want something that spreads, but for forested areas outside of the landscapes, I don’t want it to spread too much. It is good to know that it does so well here though. There are plenty of landscaped areas where it would be nice. I even have s source for it.

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