Transplanting cyclamen

Tue, 08 Apr 2014 21:09:34 PDT

  "Snowdrop seed has an appendage called an elaiosome; a small body rich in 
fatty acids and other things attractive to ants. In the wild ants probably 
visit the ripening pods; carrying off the elaiosomes and discarding the 
unwanted seed somewhere en route to their nest. You are not the only being, 
therefore, interested in the ripe snowdrop seed in your garden. As the 
capsule ripens and swells, the weight bends the supporting stalk until the 
capsule is resting on the ground. I have often gone for ripe seed, only to 
find the yellowing capsule on the ground with a circular hole in the side 
and the seed gone - ants or slugs or both, I assume."

Well, not "probably visit the ripening pods", but "definitely visit", since 
seed dispersal is dependent upon ants. Process is called myrmecochory. Ants 
have been responsible for sowing snowdrop seeds here (not from the expensive 
ones, though).
About twenty-five years ago I received a few tubers of Cyclamen coum from 
the late Nina Lambert in New York, and now there are hundreds of C. coum in 
the garden here. Ants have also propagated C. cilicium and mirabile, but for 
some reason have shown no interest in C. hederifolium.
The moral here is not to disturb the ants in their work.

By the way, I find that cyclamen tubers less than about 2cm transplanted 
into the garden suffer from frost heaving, where the self-sown ones do not, 
probably due to the roots properly anchoring the tubers.

Bob Nold
Denver, Colorado USA 

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