The only autumn flower currently flowering in the local woods is Cyclamen hederifolium. Although it is a naturalised rather than native plant, it seems perfectly at home on a British woodland floor. It is also interesting to contrast its flowers, leaves and habitat with the more cultivated varieties of previous posts.
Cyclamen hederifolium enjoys a shady woodland floor. Here, it is shown in dappled, autumn sunlight as the broadleaf canopy drops its leaves. It peeps out between the more dominant ivy leaves, leaf litter, old tree trunks and branches.
Naturalised since 1778
Cyclamen hederifolium is mentioned as a rare introduction in woods, roadsides, churchyard and waste ground in The Atlas Flora of Somerset of 1997 by the Green brothers. They noted that it was on the increase. According to BSBi distribution data, there was no Cyclamen hederifolium recorded in my immediate area before 1987. Stace’s third edition of the New Flora of the British Isles (2016) notes a scattered, introduced and naturalised distribution. Keble Martin accepted it into The Concise British Flora in Colour of 1965. The species has been growing in Britain for quite a while. Stace observes that it has been known in East Kent since 1778.
The origins of various Cyclamen species are shown in the Creative Commons map below. Cyclamen hederifolium‘s origins are marked as area 4. This covers an area from the South of France, across Italy, to Greece and the Greek Island to western Turkey. A former species synonym, Cyclamen neapolitanum, reflects its Italian origin.
Fig 1: Origins of Cyclamen Species
C. balearicum (1) ; C. repandum (2); C. purpurascens (3);
C. peloponnesiacum (5); C. creticum (6); C. graecum (7); C. coum (8); C. colchicum (9); C. parviflorum + C. abchasicum (10); C. elegans (11); C. alpinum + C. intaminatum + C. cilicium + C. mirabile + C. pseudibericum (12); C. cyprium (13); C. libanoticum (14); C. persicum (15); C. rohlfsianum (16); C. africanum (17)
Abalg [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
The flowers are not as flashy as garden varieties. They still have striking, nodding heads and delicate, 5-petalled flowers. Cyclamen hederifolium flowers are characterised by their unusually prominent auricles.
Patterned or variegated leaves are normally associated with garden plants. Cyclamen hederifolium is a striking plant even when not in flower. The leaf shape can vary. The Cyclamen Society describes leaves that are reminiscent of ivy, broadly heart-shaped or spearhead-shaped. The markings in the middle of leaves often bear a remarkable resemblance to a Christmas tree.
Naturalised Ivy-leaved Cyclamen makes a delightful contrast to the otherwise dominant native Ivy.
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