Welcome to another blooming lovely Monday. The flower today is one to enjoy all through the cold months if you have the right conditions for it; the Cyclamen.
The name Cyclamen comes from the Greek word kyklaminos, meaning circle. I wonder if this is in reference to the way the cyclamen points the way to a new spring season despite the present cold.
Before I continue about this gem of a flower do be aware its tubers are poisonous If you have small children who might enjoy digging and munching what they find, despite the very bitter taste of the tubers, or if you have dogs, cats, or fish as pets and wish to grow this plant I suggest you to put your cyclamen in pots or boxes well out of toddler and pet reach and away from your ponds.
If you wish to grow cyclamen you need to be in a temperate zone. The flowers won’t bud if the temperature is over 68 degrees. Luckily where I am its cool enough for these dainty little blooms to flourish and self propagate.
Other names for cyclamen are sowbread and the Persian violet. The name sowbread came about as pigs dig up the tubers and eat them. Cyclamen plants can produce white, pale pink, deep pink through to purple flowers on differennt plants, depending on the variety you buy. I have several pink ones in the flower beds and a potted scarlet one which I am hoping will bloom again as the cool weather encourages it to flower.
In flower lore there are several meanings given to the cyclamen. Sincerity and happiness are associated with this plant, but also resignation, goodbyes and partings. Perhaps due to the fact this plant is poisonous it also has an association with death.
In the past it was said if a pregnant woman trod on a cyclamen she might give birth too soon. However, if a woman in labour wished for an easy delivery she would be helped by a necklace of cyclamen flowers.
Along with assisting women to give birth it was also said cyclamen could help bald men grow new hair. The men had to insert the flowers into their nostrils for the plant cure to work, uncomfortable I would think. Another use for the blooms it was said was to add one to your beer, cider or wine. If you did you were certain to get well and truly drunk. Perhaps the men did this in order not notice the cyclamen flowers in their noses to cure their baldness.
In previous centuries cyclamen was used in a paste as a cure for snake bite, ingested as a purge for over production of bile, boiled up to form a paste to cure cataracts, to treat sunburn, blemished skin, gout, ulcers and chilblains. If mashed into a paste and eaten, those poisonous tubers were said to improve a man’s ability to love. I wonder how that use for the plant worked out. It was mentioned by Gerald in his Herbal written in the sixteenth century.
In the Renaissance cyclamen flowers were also used in an attempt to cure earache.
In recent times cyclamen is said to be a plant that will help improve self-esteem. The flower is sacred to the goddess Hecate in pagan lore. In Christian flower lore from Germany the cyclamen is known as Our Lady’s Little Ladles and if you look at the flowers you can see why.
At present I haven’t found a reference to cyclamen in traditional fairy lore but it might be that I need to keep looking to discover it. If you know of a fairy legend involving the cyclamen, do let me know about it. If I find a fairy reference to the plant I’ll update this post.
I think this is one of the prettiest plants to have in any autumnal and winter garden and I hope if you grow it you agree with me.
Thanks for reading.
“Cyclamen (8457919409)” by Ian Kirk from Broadstone, Dorset, UK – CyclamenUploaded by tm. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cyclamen_(8457919409).jpg#/media/File:Cyclamen_(8457919409).jpg