White Bigleaf Cyclamen

White Autumn Cyclamen

"In the Zikhron Yaakov cemetery,
morning was like the end of day.
Cyclamen curls burst out of a stone.
I held up a palm frond
to defend myself from the rain."

-Dvora Amir
born in Jerusalem, 1948


The leaves of this Cyclamen hederifolium ssp hederifolium forma albiflorum reach a full three & one-half inches long, & three to three & a half inches wide, usually just about circular. This is considerably larger & thicker than the average two-inches of the other white autumn cyclamens, & could well be c. hederifolium ssp hederifolium variant confusum noted for bigger leaves & bigger flowers.

We've two of this large-leaf sport growing in a cyclamen garden between two native shrubs, a Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum 'King Edward VII') & American witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana).

White Bigleaf CyclamenThe undersides of the leaves are a dusty purply pink. In addition the larger leaves than normal, the leaves are also far rounder as opposed to the ivy-shaped leaves of the regular subspecies of White hederifolium, & the toothed edges are so blunted as to nearly be absent.

The species name means "Ivy-leaf" & these distinctly not sagittate or arrow-shaped specimens could easily be mistaken for the less garden-hardy round-leafed C. persicum. Yet the leaf's central arrowhead pattern, occasionally seen in other species but which is all but universal to C. hederofolium, is as well-defined in these rounded large leaves as upon saggitate specimens.

The larger thicker untoothed leaves are associated with the subspecies C. h. confusum which is tetraploid as opposed to the usual diploid. It is a wild pink-flowering form native to a finite area within the species larger distribution, restricted to Crete, Sicily, & the Mani Peninsula of the Peloponnese. There is no standard white form of this subspecies, however, so our oversized untoothed oddities may have resulted from a random cross-fertilization between stocks of pink-flowering C. h. confusum with the normal C. h. hederifolium albiflorum.

The local grower had many seed-grown regular-leafed whites growing amidst all sorts of varieties including (even the unusual 'Green Elf' miniature variety I was so happy to spot as a single random plant). The grower made no attempt to keep the strains separate & seems to have gotten the original seeds as an unseparated mixed lot. As our Giant-leaf White is almost certainly an intraspecies hybrid, seedlings needn't necessary have all the traits of the parent plant.

Its flowers are larger, too. It blooms as early as July, but especially in August, a summer blossom shown in the second photo. As a generality, those C. hederofolium that bloom first in our garden happen to be the white ones, & though the species is in general an autumn bloomer, this large-leafed white, as also another large-leafed white flowering variety called 'White Cloud' bloom ahead of any of the pink-flowering ones. I'd've thought this merely coincidence & it might not be true of another garden's differing array of white & pink autumn cyclamens; but of the C. hederifolium at SinLur Gardens, it's the white ones that bloom there first too, likewise starting in July, with pink joining in as early as August but mostly in September.

In late September the leaves begin to appear, joining the flowers which continue later than average, until early November. The pre-leaf flowers are somewhat upright, but the later blooms occur on long coiling stems that often reach & wind beyond the confines of the clump of leaves, as the stems are actively attempting to plant their own seeds next to the parent! The self-planted seeds germinate in July & reveal themselves as seedlings in September or October.

It is not as common that this species has such a range of leaf varieties from a single seed source, unlike the intraspecies hybrids of C. coum which have an extravagant range of leaf-types.

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Cyclamen hederifolium f albiflorum 'White Cloud'


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