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Sunlight filters through a forest of cyclamen flowers

October 22, 2014 | Latest Photo Prev Next
Forest in northern IsraelForest in northern IsraelPhoto: Idan Ben Haim / Shutterstock
October 22, 2014 | Latest Photo
An enchanted forest

At sunrise, a meadow of cyclamen flowers gives this wooded area in northern Israel the look of what the photographer calls an "enchanted forest." Their tiny pink petals seem to stretch up to greet the sun's rays, while the cyclamen leaves cover the ground in a velvety blanket of green. 

This tuberous plants can flower at any time of year and make for a beautiful sight in the Mediterranean region, where they flourish among trees and rocks alike. The roots of the plant are edible and a source of food for wild pigs, earning cyclamen plants the less dainty nickname of "sowbread." 

The Cyclamen Society cites the writings of a 16th-century physician who shared some of famed Greek naturalist Pedacio Dioscorides' very peculiar herbal uses for the plant — according to Dioscorides, it could heal wounds, treat cataracts and snake bites, and cure any poison. If simply worn by a pregnant woman, it could speed up her delivery. He even suggested mashing the plant to create a love potion. According to the Cyclamen Society, the roots of the plant could be created into cakes that had a cupid-like effect on whoever ate them.

Should you come across a field of cyclamen flowers, you would be wise to decide not to use them for a love potion; and be sure to refrain from picking them — this can hinder the long-term sustainability of these perennials. (Besides, a photo lasts longer!)

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