Silverleaf Cycalmen

Silver (Pewter Group) Patternleaf
Winter Cyclamen

"Cyclamen that blossom
Ere the leaflets of the vernal trees unfold."

Clark Ashton Smith
(1893 - 1961)


Cyclamen coum is among the most thrilling of flowers for the winter garden. We have planted them in shady locations throughout our gardens, & have tried to get them from various sources since they are so varied from grower to grower. Several of the select cultivars in our collection originated in Ashwood & Tile Barn Nurseries in England. Others were hand-selected for unusual traits from among ordinary inexpensive stocks.

Silverleaf CycalmenThere are so very many variant leaf forms for C. coum because the species & its subspecies grow over such a wide range from mountains & coasts of the Black Sea, through Georgia & the Crimea, from southern Turkey to the Mediterranean area, to Israel, Lebanan, Iran & Syria. Isolated populations developed variants or forms, from which cyclamen fanatics have collected seeds that end up in cultivation, & these commit incestuous "intraspecies hybridization" in nurseries & right out in our own individual gardens. Hence the variety of leaves becomes increasingly complex, & rather than individual cultivars their are "Groups" with considerable variation even within each type.

We obtained a pair of two-year-old seedlings of a pink-flowering variety designated 'Silver Patternleaf' or 'Patterned Silverleaf.' By a gradation system that goes from Pewter-leaf, to Silver-leaf, to White-silver, this one is decidedly silver though fading to pewter at the very edge. It would be nice if these three gradations were more widely applied, but in common practice all gradations get categorized Silverleaf or Pewter Group without further distinction.

The original seeds for 'Silverleaf' were selected from the large Pewter Group for enhanced contrast, & the Pewter Group were derived by breeding an old marbled-leaf variety named 'A. E. Bowles' after the famous English gardener, with a variety of the same subspecies called 'Nymans.' The cross was effected by Kath Dryden of the Oakridge Nursery at Sawbridgeworth, Herfordshire. It has become a standard variety with great variation of appearance specimen to specimen even if grown from the same plant's seeds, let alone the variety seen from grower to grower.

The seed for the plant shown on this page was obtained from the Ashwood Nursery in England, & started in 2001 by Heronswood Nursery near us. We got it for our garden in March 2003. The second picture is a leaf portrait snapped the following October, capturing one of its very first leaves to arrive after it was ensconced in our garden. The top photo is from mid-January (2004) showing its very first pink flower.

The splendid leaf is round with heavily silvered edges & the elongated green mapleleaf silhouette, or fir tree silhouette sometimes called "Christmas Tree Pattern," pure green in the silhouette & framed in mottled silveriness.

But the second Patterned Silverleaf Pink growing next to it, despite that it is from the same group, completely reverses the color scheme! The mapleleaf silhouette is silver, framed by pure green. That one's not yet pictured, as a cat completely wrecked it while burying poops, & not sure yet it can recover this year, though it'll be fine next year.

So one green silhouette, one silver silhouette, side-by-side, where they'll inevitably crosspollinate & self-seed intermediate patternleaf & silver-leaf forms. Both have pink flowers & their intermediate offspring will likely remain fairly predictably pink, no matter how the leaf patterns come out.

When these young plants mature with fully developed tubers, they will produce leaves in great numbers beginning about mid-September, followed at the latest in January by the pink flowers that last to early spring, the pretty leaves lasting a little longer than the blooms. Long-settled specimens with well-developed tubers may begin blooming as early as November.

Continue to
Cyclamen coum spp coum 'White-silver Patternleaf'


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