White Cyclamen

Basic Sagittate
Patternleaf White
Autumn Cyclamen

"Then were we enraptured by the cyclamen
That from some cranny thrust its fragile flower."

-Clinton Scollard


White CyclamenA garden cannot have too many cyclamens. Still, I was beginning to feel like I had too many basic pink ones, so added a few more Cyclamen hederifolium ssp hederifolium var albiflorum, or just 'Album' (though sometimes miscataloged as 'Alba'). Formerly called C. neopolitanum, one still sometimes sees the regular Pink or the White listed under the old name.

The 'Album' shown on this page were nursery-grown here on the Olympic Penninsula by a shade specialist. I poked them in among an array of pink cyclamens growing right up next to the trunk underneath the Chokecherry Tree.

White Cyclamen leafIt seems to me 'Album' is not nearly as often encountered for sale in local independent nurseries as is the case with the pink C. hederifolium. Perhaps they are fewer in random stocks because seedlings from 'Album' too easily reverts to shades of pink wherever it is planted in proximity with pink ones with which it crosspollinates, rendering the white ones comparatively rare.

The leaf type on these is called Patternleaf. These have the basic single-shield arrowhead silhouette & pewtered edging. The shape of the leaf is very subdued, for the deckled seven-sided look is not as strong as on some specimens, these being more nearly ovate or heart-shaped.

There are two different specimens shown on this page, planted near one another. At first glance at the leaf portraits you may not notice they are a bit different from one another. The tip of the single-shield extends broadly to the very tip of the leaf on one specimen, but the other patternleaf white has more a point to the spearhead silhouette that barely touches the leaf's tip. This pair are from the same seedling lots so may not radically exemplify "open tip" & "closed tip" varieties ("open tip" should really be a broader & more stable for a perfect example), but this pair gives a so-so impression of the distinctions. A stronger fully stable "open tip" form can be seen on The Apollo Group page.

The blooms are not often purely white, but have a pink or violet heart (or "nose") that can lend them a glowy depth. The first two photos on this page, of just the flowers, were taken early & mid August respectively, before the leaves emerged. The variegated leaves intruding into the second photo are from a bigroot crane's-bill ( Geranium macrorrhizum 'Variegatum'). The green seed-pods behind the first portrait are from tipped-over stems of Gladwyn Iris (Iris foetidissima) which have since been transplanted elsewhere to make room for more cyclamens.

Cyclamen leaf Those two cyclamen flower portraits happen to be of the "closed tip" specimen, the leaves of which are shown in the third photo. The fourth photo is of the "open tip" clump. The leaf portraits are all from mid to late October.

For these particular specimens of patternleaf white, the slightly larger than average flowers occur from August to October, rarely until November, though we have other white ones that continue blooming into November. These two are most floriferous mid-August through early October. Nearby pink ones in the exact same conditions usually start blooming a bit later than 'Album,' & will still be blooming in November though 'Album' often stops before October's end.

Before September's end, & certainly by October, this cyclamen's leaves make their appearance (but it is not unusual that some specimens do produced leaflets just about simultaneous with the first flush of flowers). When it is finished blooming, the wonderfully ornate leaves linger with their ornate beauty until January or March as ideal winter groundcover.

'Album' like other varieties of cyclamens are quite varied in leaf pattern & various types fall into "groups" rather than highly specific forms. But the Olympic Penninsula grower's stock always looks pretty much like these two examples. Another grower on the opposite side of Puget Sound has white-flowering autumn cyclamens with much less stable seeds so that the leaf patterns are vastly more varied plant to plant, & a Big-leaf 'Album' from the rival grower is given its own page. We've also given a separate page to the Double-shield 'Album.'

These cyclamens self-seed with great ease, & two-year-old seedlings will already be blooming, though tubers are much slower to develop. Seedlings may crop up at considerable distances from the parent plants because ants cart off the seeds & clean the meat off them, leaving the seed readied to grow.

Unless planted quite far from pink-bloomers, the seedlings will be unpredictable in flower color, though it starts blooming enough before the pink ones that some of the seeds are bound to be self-pollinated & truer to the parent.

Continue to
Cyclamen hederifolium var albiflorum, Big-leaf sport


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