Cyclamen The Good, The Bad or The Pretty
Cyclamen may have many different meanings to different people. My personal experience is that it is the flower that ushers in spring. As a child, finding the word Cyclamen a difficult name, I had nicknamed it ‘Rabbit Ears’ the memory of which now paints a quirky smile on my lips every time I look at one.
A brief description of the Cyclamen flower
Presently there are about 23 species of the cyclamen that exist today. Cyclamen can be grown both outdoors and indoors in pots. In nature they are found in dry forests or scrub areas. Originally native to Europe, the Mediterranean, Iran and Africa, they are now grown in many parts of the world. They are part of the primrose family but bear no obvious resemblance to primroses.
Cyclamen is a tuber, which means that the flowers are growing from the tuber with its deep roots. The leaves will actually bud in the fall and it will grow throughout the winter. The petals of the Cyclamen flowers come in white, bright pink, red or purple colors and are usually facing in an upwards direction. There are also a fruits that comes off these flowers which turn into seeds.
The varied meaning of the Flower Cyclamen
First, let us explore the favorable interpretation of this flower: Many consider this plant as symbol of lasting feelings and sincere affection. Because of the tuber, which allows it to withstand difficult conditions, the cyclamen is representative of deep love. And some believe giving someone a cyclamen expresses love and sincere tenderness.
The cyclamen, whose flowers bend elegantly on their stems to lead the fruit toward the ground, also symbolizes maternal love.
-A Little known fact: the Cyclamen was one of the flowers of choice for Leonardo Da Vinci at the beginning of the 16th century, and he covered the margins of his manuscripts with it.
-Louis XIV received them in bunches along with many other flowers which graced the lounges of Versailles. In France, during the time of Louis XIV, the name was erroneously believed to be feminine and so this plant was periodically given to children and young girls.
The 17th century Flemish painters depicted Jesus picking flowers under the watchful eye of the angels in meadows scattered with cyclamens.
After period of obscurity in the 18th century, the cyclamen was revived in fashion in the 19th century, when gardeners once more cultivated it in Grenelle, near Paris. Still later it was exported to distant lands as far as Japan.
Then there is the not so favorable interpretation of Cyclamen: In some cultures for instance, it is considered the symbol of goodbye or resignation. The cyclamen flower is also called by some a sowbread or the Persian violet, a not so desirable a gift.
Then there is that old legend in which King Solomon supposedly wore a beautiful crown decorated with delicate cyclamen blossoms. Hundreds of years later, when the First Temple was destroyed, and the Jews were exiled to Babylon, they supposedly took with them the royal crown. The cyclamens that bedecked the crown were devastated by the tragedy, and bent their heads in sorrow. And that is why, it is believed, that to date cyclamen flowers bow their heads.
Here are some interesting superstitions about the Cyclamen
-Some believe that Cyclamen may be woven into any spell designed to increase joy and happiness in a situation. It was supposed to increase affection in any relationship, akin to a love spell. Small cakes can be made of the roasted tuber which will cause one upon ingesting it to fall madly in love with the one who bakes them. It may also be a useful addition to wedding cakes.
Typically the spells are for building confidence, self-esteem and self love. Some believe it increases the libido and fertility.
It will also keep away nightmares and prevent negative spells cast at household members from taking effect. The oil or the flower itself may be worn to protect one against a broken heart. But be warned, the use of this flower, in any form, can cause violent illness.
- Adversely, it can also be used to the opposite effect, to quietly send away an unwanted person. The cyclamen is; after all, poisonous especially to cats and fish and it actually has a meaning that relates to death and the fact that all good things will eventually end. This is a flower that can be used at a funeral to represent departure.
- On the other hand, Cyclamen is said to counteract poison and to make an effective ointment to heal a snake bite.
What’s more, Cyclamen is a very powerful, violent purgative, it’s supposed to clear the sinuses or remove boils or blemishes from the skin.
A plaster of cyclamen was reputed to be helpful for cataracts, sunburn and gout but considering its poisonous nature, it’s best to avoid it. Pregnant women particularly, should never use this plant, internally or externally, for any purpose!
Enjoy the flower only… or not, depending on your cultural beliefs.