This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
A very distinct genus, remarkable for the large circular compressed perennial rootstock, from which the leaves and flowers spring. Calyx 5-partite. Corolla-tube short; limb large, deeply lobed; lobes turned back, giving the flowers the appearance of a shuttlecock. Capsule 5-valved. There are about eight species, in Europe, North Africa, and Asia. The name is from a circle, in allusion to the spiral peduncle.
Sowbread is the popular name for the species of this genus.
1. C. Persicum (fig. 203). - This species is the one generally seen in conservatories, but it is not so hardy as the following species, and is merely introduced here for the woodcut. - There are many handsome varieties.
Fig. 203. Cyclamen Persicum. (1/3 nat. size.)
2. C. Europaeum. - Leaves produced with the flowers, repand or crenulate, ovate-rotundate, deeply cordate at the base, with an acute sinus. Segments of the corolla acute, throat naked. Flowers white and pink, or some shade of red or purple, appearing in Autumn. South of Europe.
3. C. hederaefolium. - The hardiest of all the species, and a very handsome plant. It is found naturalised in some parts of England. Leaves appearing after the flowers, cordate-ovate, angular, crenulate. Segments of the corolla acute, throat furnished with 10 teeth. Flowers autumnal, white or pink, red at the throat. The foliage in both species is often mottled or marked with white, and purple beneath; and the tuber in this species especially attains a very large size.
4. C. Coum. - A smaller species with rounded slightly toothed or entire leaves cordate at the base, with overlapping lobes. Flowers appearing in early Spring. Segments of the corolla oval, bright red with a darker spot at the base, and a white throat. South of Europe. C. verum is a closely allied species, or, perhaps, merely a variety having paler coloured flowers and variegated foliage.
C. Ibericum and C. Neapolitanum are tender Spring-flowering species.