Cyclamen hederifolium (shame about the name)
Damn, the ants have been already.
They have left one seed!
Hardy cyclamen give ever changing beauty for eight months each year.
On Mount Faeto, overlooking the Bay of Naples, hardy cyclamen are everywhere. They are on grassy verges, cracks in the rocks and in small woods, often in deep shade. What a lovely descriptive name, Cyclamen neapolitanum. So the name gets changed to Cyclamen hederifolium! Ugly, but accurate, it means ‘like an ivy’.
The cyclamen season starts with August rain. First the seed pods from last year’s flowers push through. Their stalks look like ‘coiled springs’, we call them zebedees! They take a month or so to ripen and dry. I collect huge amounts of seed and immediately sow them in seed trays, 200 seeds per tray. Not this year, nor last. The ants are getting wise and got there first. The ants are collecting a protein rich material attached to the seed. They do not eat the actual seed, which is later discarded in the ant midden. This makes a perfect seedbed. This symbiotic relationship is called myrmecochory.
Just like on Faeto, cyclamen grow in the most most unlikely places. I wonder how much their survival depends on their known mycorrhizal associations?
By mid September, and before the leaves emerge, the flowers appear. These naked flowers are beauties in their own right and, if you fall to your knees, can be deliciously scented.
Come October, marbled foliage joins the flowers. They can be enjoyed together for one more month before the flowers give way to the leaves alone. What lovely ground cover the leaves make until May. Yes, the leaves are the shape of ivy, but ivy as you have never seen it before.
The ants have spread seed everywhere. These seedlings are in Bolton Percy moss.
Skip to the future and read about growing indoor cyclamen outside