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.
Rarely planted but often found where the wildflowers grow, rose campion, Silene coronaria, has a way of sneaking in like California poppy or sweet alyssum do. It is so rarely planted that young plants are rarely available in nurseries. Seed is somewhat more available in nurseries, and quite available online. Although they self sow freely if allowed to go to seed, they are not really invasive.
The velvety gray foliage is pretty alone, and becomes a perfect backdrop for the surprisingly bright magenta, regal red or pure white flowers that bloom through early summer. Most of the foliage forms low mounds not much more than a foot wide, while flowering stems stand almost twice as tall. Flowers are ideal for cutting. Hummingbirds enjoy magenta and red flowers more than white.
Individual plants can last for a few years as short term perennials, but because they seed profusely enough to replace themselves annually, they are often grown as annuals, and pulled up before new seedlings appear. Those who last for a second year should probably be groomed. If seedlings are crowded, some can be pulled up and relocated while young. Rose campion wants full sun.
A plant that clings to another plant for support without parasitizing it is an epiphyte. Some do it to get a bit more sunlight closer to the ceiling of a dense forest. Others do it to get up off of the forest floor to avoid competition with conventionally terrestrial plants. Maybe some just want to avoid grazing animals. It is often difficult to determine why plants do what they do.
Spider plants, ephiphyllums and many types of orchids, bromeliads and ferns are some of the more familiar epiphytes. Most do not actually cling to trees. They instead live in the crotches of limbs where debris from the foliar canopy above accumulates. Either way, they do not need much organic matter in which to disperse their roots, and some need none at all. Many collect what they need from the air and precipitation.
This is not about an epiphyte.
It is about a Mexican fan palm that thought it was epiphyte.
You might have though that the picture above depicts a common Mexican fan palm next to a surly London planetree. With closer inspection, you will notice that the palm lacks a trunk at ground level. The utility pole visible below the palm is not attached to it, and does not support it. Yet, the palm does not just hover there. It grew from a cavity in the London planetree.
Most of us know how many plants self sow in weird places. Sometimes they appear where they are welcome. Usually, they end up in pots with other plants, too close to pavement, or in rain gutters that have not been cleaned out enough. Of course, big trees commonly appear under utility cables. Once in a while something self sows in a decaying cavity of a tree.
Most of us have enough sense to remove self sown trees and plants that appears where they can not live for long without causing problems. Those of us who hire gardeners tend to trust and hope that the gardeners would exhibit the same sort of common sense. After all, that is part of what they are payed significant money for.
Unfortunately, Mexican fan palms are not epiphytic. They are just too heavy, even when young.