Large Silverleaf
Winter Cyclamen

"Throw out the dead said Herakleitos
and he saw heaven turn pale.
He saw in the mud two small cyclamens kissing."

-Nikos Gatsos


Looking through new stocks of cyclamens for sale, there was a single specimen remaining of Cyclamen coum 'Silverleaf' amidst a great many plain dark-green or mildly edgespeckled plants, & a handful of white-silver patternleafs. I grabbed the best of the White-silvered patternleaf specimens, & the single unpatterned Silverleaf.

The luminiscent quality of this largish leaf (it grows twice the size of the majority of C. coum in our gardens) is most appealing. It is evenly silvered throughout the center, with a wide green margin around the edges. It is a much whiter silvering than on the evenly pewtered 'Tilebarn Elizabeth' or 'BSBE 518,' neither of which has the green margin but are pewtered right to the leaf edges.

Curiuously, the occasional leaf comes out of the tuber a very plain unmarked dark green, so the silvering is not entirely stable, though the majority of its leaves are wonderfully silvered. The leaves are a bit larger than is the average for the species, too.

Many buds on coiled stems appear by mid-December, blooming late December through March. Mature specimens in protected locations will begin blooming sooner. The leaves last up to April.

The meaning of the species name coum has been lost. It is probably derived from a Greek word meaning "round" or "oval" & alludes to the roundness to kidney-shape of the leaves, but there are alternate theories.

It was in the past suggested that coum might mean "of the Isle of Kos." However, the species is not native to this Aegean island. In 1989 the journal of the Cyclamen Society attempted clarification by suggesting the name meant "from Koa," an ancient name of eastern Cilicia (encompassing part of Armenia & of southeastern Turkey) from whence Solomon obtained horses, & where in fact C. coum does grow wild. In Aramaic, once spoken widely in regions where cyclamens grow, koum means "arise," which was a cry made to a dying & reborn demigod or fertility daemon such as Tamuz or Jesus, who rose in the form of flowers.

There's also the region of Al-Koum in Egypt, or Koum (Qum), a sacred town south of Tehran. Al-Koum, Egypt, & Koum, Iran, are within the plant's range. The Iranian village is famed for its carpets with flower & garden scenes. Koum as a place name or as boy's name means "hill" or "highlands," such as where cyclamens might well grow.

Continue to
Cyclamen coum spp coum var coum
'Broadleigh Silver' (Pewter Group) Pink


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