History of the cyclamen

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Cyclamen, a plant that went from being considered poisonous to being cultivated for its beauty

The cyclamen

Cyclamen is a genus of tubers characterized by the particular shape of the inverted calyx flower. However, the name derives from the characteristic round shape of the tuber, which in Greek is called kyklos. There are 24 species of cyclamen with an area that touches the whole Mediterranean, but also goes to the Alps, around the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and Somalia. The cyclamen tends to have its flowering peak at the beginning of spring, then going into “rest” when summer arrives; the plant, if properly kept, can still live for 5/6 years.

There are not many interesting stories about this tuber as it has only recently been cultivated, while for centuries it has been mainly a wild plant, the only feature that made it really interesting were its poisonous properties. Historically it was in fact used by fishermen to poison the waters and facilitate their work, in addition to this it was prescribed to practice abortion, kill any intestinal worms and was fed to pigs, which seem to be immune from its poison. Nowadays the most cultivated species of all is Cyclamen persicum, typical of North Africa and the Middle East.

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