VIU Milner Gardens and Woodland

Plant Pick: Eastern sowbread, Eastern cyclamen, or round-leaf cyclamen

Latin name: Cyclamen coum

by Vancouver Island Master Gardeners Association

Veronica Milner was an accomplished artist especially of flower pastels. She was known to invite fellow artists to draw in her gardens. One of these was Mary Comber-Miles, a British artist well-known for her botanical drawings. She likely drew the above Cyclamen coum in Veronica's garden.
Cyclamens must have appealed to Veronica because one finds them interspersed throughout the woodland garden, both the early-spring bloomer, Cyclamen coum, and the late blooming C. hederifolium. Both add colour during times when not many other plants are in flower. Both are ground hugging and, when mature, can form pillows of flowers. C. coum has shiny, distinctly marked leaves which adds special interest to the plant. It is valued as an excellent companion plant to rhododendrons, requiring the same growing conditions and thriving under the taller shrubs. Being generally disease-free and freely self-seeding, it is a wonderful addition to the home garden. This tuberous perennial is native from the Black Sea area, through Northern Turkey to the Caucasus and Crimea with another population along the Mediterranean to Lebanon.

Photos courtesy of:  Dorothee Kieser






Rounded kidney-shaped to heart-shaped leaves with entire margins.


2-3" (5-8 cm)

Hardiness Zone:

Hardy to Zone 5


Does well in sheltered, often woodland, settings, shade to semi-shade

Flower colour:

Variable: from white to bicoloured (white with pink mouth) to pink to carmine red

Leaf colour:

Deep green, often with silver markings

Flower time:

Winter to very early spring

Preferred soil

and Watering:

Humus-rich garden soil with leaf mould. Well-drained but not too dry.


This tuberous perennial likes a planting depth of 4" (10 cm). It easily self-seeds creating large clusters of plants. Generally disease-free.


  1. RHS: Cyclamen coum
  2. A-Z encyclopedia of Garden Plants. Eds: Christopher Brickell and Trevor Cole. Dorling Kindersley Ltd 2004
  3. Wikipedia: Cyclamen_coum