Wed, 14 Apr 2004 12:31:20 PDT
John Bryan's mention of Cyclamen fragrance deserves a comment.

Firstly, the species in North Africa is C. africanum, distinct from, but
similar to, C. hederifolium. In my experience it is not scented, but
Grey-Wilson says 'occasionally fragrant.'

It is true that some populations of C. hederifolium are scented, others not.
So far as I can tell, the more westerly populations are not scented, and it
is from these that most garden stock probably originated. Further east, C.
hederifolium subsp. hederifolium from Turkey is usually scented. I cannot
say whether it is scented in Greece or not - cannot remember. Subsp.
confusum, however, from Sicily and southern Greece is as gloriously scented
as any wild cyclamen. I recall a glorious day in the Mani Peninsular in
early November when confusum was in full flower and the air full of its
scent - pure heaven for me, with the cyclamen beneath the trees and the open
ground carpeted with crocuses. A pot of subsp. confusum will fill a
greenhouse with scent; alas, it seems to be slightly less hardy than the
nominate subspecies, probably because it grows close to the sea on the
Mediterranean shore. I cannot believe that the scent is anything other than
adaptive to the pollinators available to the plant in the wild.

John Grimshaw

Dr John M. Grimshaw
Garden Manager, Colesbourne Gardens

Gardens Cottage
Nr Cheltenham
Gloucestershire GL53 9NP

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "John Bryan" <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2004 5:47 PM
Subject: [pbs] Fragrance

> Dear All;
> Mary Sue posed a question regarding fragrance in some plants in the same
> species having fragrance and others of the same species not having any
> fragrance.
> I do not think this has anything to do with pollinators, rather
> geographic variation. I remember discussing this with Professor
> Doorenbos in Wagening, The Netherlands, back in 1956, when I was living
> and studying in The Netherlands. He told me that Cyclamen hederifolium
> from North Africa had a distinct fragrance, while others from other
> regions of the Mediterranean did not. His opinion was that the gene
> carrying the fragrance character was present in all of the species but
> recessive. The colonies in North Africa were of the type that allowed
> the gene to surface and were thus fragrant. No doubt other colonies with
> fragrant flowers were to be found in isolated pockets within the natural
> range of the plants, but all from North Africa were fragrant. This seems
> to me to be a logical reason. If it were due to pollinators the
> variations and ability to adapt to a particular habitat would mean that
> even greater variances in fragrance would be apparent. Cheers, John E.
> Bryan
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