Cyclamen hederifolium (ivy-leaved cyclamen or sowbread) is a species of flowering plant in the genus Cyclamen, of the family Primulaceae. It is the most widespread cyclamen species, the most widely cultivated after the florist's cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum), and the most hardy and vigorous in oceanic climates. It is native to woodland, shrubland, and rocky areas in the Mediterranean region from southern France to western Turkey and on Mediterranean islands, and naturalized farther north in Europe and in the Pacific Northwest.
The species name hederifolium comes from the Latin hedera (ivy) and folium (leaf) because of the shape and patterning of the leaves. The older species name, neapolitanum, refers to Naples, where the species grows.
Cyclamen hederifolium is a tuberous perennial that blooms and sprouts leaves in autumn, grows through the winter, and goes dormant before summer, when the seed pods ripen and open.
The tuber is round-flattened and produces roots from the top and sides, leaving the base bare. In the florist's cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum), roots come from the bottom, leaving the top and sides bare.
The tuber becomes larger with age; older specimens commonly become more than 25 cm (10 in) across. In other species, tubers do not grow as large; Cyclamen coum usually does not reach more than 6.5 cm (2.6 in) across.
Leaves and flowers grow from buds on top.
The leaves are variably shaped and colored. Depending on the specimen, leaf shape varies from heart-shaped to long and arrow-shaped, usually with 2-3 angled lobes on each side, resembling the juvenile leaves of ivy (Hedera). Leaf color varies from all-green to all-silver, but the most common is a Christmas tree or hastate pattern in silver or pewter and various shades of green.
The leaf and flower stalks of Cyclamen hederifolium grow outwards and then up, forming an "elbow". Plants in narrow pots often have a ring of leaves around the outside of the pot. In the closely related Cyclamen africanum, stalks grow up from the tuber without a bend near the base.