Illustrated cyclamen book coming this summer

A NEW book is being published on The Genus Cyclamen (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, England, with Christopher Helm Ltd., 13.95; and with Timber Press, Portland, Ore., $28.95). It's by Christopher Grey-Wilson, of Kew Gardens. Though there's a fair amount of technical and botanical information for the specialist, the book also has plenty for the amateur enthusiast. It's well written and set out, and supported by clear line drawings. The meticulous color-plate watercolors by Mary Grierson are splendidly explicit and elegant, but the color tends in places to be misleadingly dull.

``The Genus Cyclamen'' describes each of the cyclamen species in detail. The one most people know is the nonhardy pot plant, C. persicum, so brilliantly developed for the flower shop trade.

The original of this plant still grows in the wild in the eastern Mediterranean area, as do the 18 other known species of cyclamens in various parts of southern Europe, western Asia, and North Africa.

All the species are in cultivation, though the most recently discovered one, C. somalense, exists as a mere three plants in a single collection. These belong to their discoverer, botanist Mats Thulin, at his home in Uppsala, Sweden.

It was discovered just after Grey-Wilson had finished his manuscript, so he has written it up at the end of the book. It was found on Nov. 26, 1986, in high limestone cliffs in a part of northern Somalia that has a climate very like the Mediterranean regions. This unexpected habitat is about 2,800 kilometers (1,750 miles) from the nearest known cyclamen growing in the wild. The author calls it ``an exciting new find.''

The book has a short chapter on the conservation of cyclamens - and a great deal of practical advice on the species' cultivation and propagation. Some can be grown and naturalized outdoors. Others require cold greenhouse conditions. -30-{et

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