Cilician White

'Album' or White
Cilician Cyclamen

"She fluttered from me like a cyclamen,
As white, which taken in a sudden wind
Beats on against the palisade."

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning


White Cilician cyclamen (C. cilicium forma album) has a completely white flower, without the pink or plum "nose" seen on white forms of other species. The flowers have a faint honey scent not invariably detectable.

The flowers are small & appear September/October sometimes before leaves but sometimes simultaneously with leaves, & continues flowering through November along with the maturing leaves. They have rather "open" or "reaching" petals rather than reflexed & dumpy as with the majority of species.

This is growing in a pot at the foot of a Dwarf Serbian Spruce (Picea omorika 'Pimoko'). This teency tree needs considerable sunlight, but in autumn when the cyclamen begins to appear, the pot goes in a semi-shady area on the wall by the flagstone patio, then back to a sunnier spot about April.

The white form was not discovered until 1982 in the Turkish province of Antalya, north of Murtici to Akseki. It was for a long while after very hard to come by even from specialty growers. It is still typically listed as "rare." But it has proven vigorous in cultivation (more so even than the pink), & like other former rarities, over time became increasingly available. Specialists in cyclamens & hobbyists alike have been pretty careful to preserve seeds, & nowadays it can be had for only a couple dollars or a pound more expensive than the pink.

As a natural wildflower, it will grow true from seed, though if planted in proximity to the pink, cross-pollination will not be good for preserving the white.

When it is finished flowering, the patterned leaves persist until late winter or early spring. The leaves are like miniature patternleaf C. coum, round to ovate, with silvery marbling, & a spearhead silhouette at the leaf's center. The undersides are purple.

This native of the Tauric mountains was sacred to Artemis taurica, the ultra-violent Anatolian Mother Goddess who received sacrifices of shipwreckled sailors & whose priestesses were baptised in showers of blood from sacrificial bulls.

In Anatolia, the Cilician cyclamen grows on hillsides amidst rocks & under evergreen trees, in partial to full shade. It enjoys an annual mulching with fir or pine needles.

The leaves rise to only about three inches in height at the outside, with smaller leaves & flowers than either C. coum or C. hederifolium, but larger than the closely related C. intaminatum. It may not be quite as hardy as C. coum & hederifolium in as many zones, but here in Zone 8 it is never subjected to temperatures too cold for its happiness, so it does extremely well. Apart from needing a very well-draining location in shade where larger groundcovers will not overwhelm it, it's in the main a low maintenance cyclamen.

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Cyclamen cyprium


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