seedpod hardy cyclamen, persian violet, , ivy-leaved cyclamen or sowbread, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest

Cyclamen Seedpods

What does Southern Vancouver Island have in common with Turkey on the Mediterranean?
Hardy Cyclamen.

hardy cyclamen, persian violet, , ivy-leaved cyclamen or sowbread, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Cyclamen hederifolium is native to Turkey,  and that climate is quite like ours.
Would you’ve guessed?
So it kinda makes sense:
What prospers there…
prospers here.

garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Hardy Cyclamen likes our dry summer.  It goes dormant. Later, the cooling temperatures & returning rain of September triggers the awakening.  One morning flowers are popping out of the ground & dancing in the dappled shade.  What a lovely surprise. Flowers in autumn!
(Plus, what a bonus – a pretty plant that doesn’t need me dragging around a garden hose… AND one that’s happy in those tough-to-garden spots under trees!)

garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
hardy cyclamen, persian violet, , ivy-leaved cyclamen or sowbread, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

After pollinators do their thing, the flower stems curl into tight coils, pulling the seed pods to the ground.  Leaves emerge, protecting the pods from our winter wind & rain.  How tidy is that?   I never feel the urge to deadhead.   (Extra bonus – decorative foliage that stays green through our long, glum winter.  And IF we get snow & severe cold, the cyclamen survives to -28C  a colder winter than we’re likely to get.)

garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

While so much of the garden is going nuts through spring, Cyclamen hederifolium is wrapping up its display. The leaves die back, revealing the maturing seed pods. A matt of balls on coil springs remind me where the plant is preparing for sleep.  Doesn’t it look GROOVY?

hardy cyclamen, persian violet, , ivy-leaved cyclamen or sowbread, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Ants think it’s pretty groovy, too.  The seeds are coated with a sweet film.  Ants gather them & take them home to feed the masses.
Win – Win – Win.
Ants get a treat.
The seed is sown.
And the gardener has a new no-fuss plant.

hardy cyclamen, persian violet, , ivy-leaved cyclamen or sowbread, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

What an ingenious system for naturalizing through the garden … and beyond.

Barely noticeable little seedlings sprout in lawns & woodland parks alike.  Eventually, the tiny corms can grow to the size of dinner plates.
Welcome or not.

hardy cyclamen coum, eastern cyclamen C. coum garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I grow a few varieties of Hardy Cyclamen. Over 10 years, I’ve noticed a couple baby plants growing near their parents.  I’m particularly fond of the February bloomer Cyclamen coum.

C. coum is a timid seeder in comparison with the C. hederifolium.  The fall bloomer out-competes the winter bloomer.  I’m very careful to keep each cyclamen variety in its own bed.

hardy cyclamen, persian violet, , ivy-leaved cyclamen or sowbread, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Believe it or not — C. hederifolium is on the District of Saanich’s Invasive Plants list!  It naturalizes that well around here.  It must out-compete more than just the C. coum.

I have to admit to still holding a torch for these funky plants.
Does it count in my favour that I’ve dug some cyclamen invaders out of a couple wild parklands?
They’ve been planted in spots they’re not likely to escape without notice…

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