Daffodils, Jonquils And Narcissi
Spring bulbs are some of my favourite flowers, and the Narcissus family are at the top of the list for me.
I've put together some information about these plants, and collected a few pictures of the daffodil family for you to enjoy.
The daffodil in the picture is one I bought at a market, just because it was pretty. I do that a lot with flowers! Unfortunately, they don't always survive my treatment, but I keep trying, as I love them! Perhaps I should stop going to markets.....
My Newest Daffodil
The Amaryllis Family
Narcissi, Jonquils and Daffodils are all part of the same family of plants, the Amaryllis family.
Note: Narcissi, narcissus, and narcissuses are all acceptable versions of the plural.
Narcissi is the latin name for all types of jonquil, daffodil, and narcissus. These plants are perennial flowering bulbs, which generally flower in Spring. They are found in meadows and woods in Europe, North Africa and in the Western part of Asia.
These plants are a very popular garden flower, and are also used as cut flowers.
The well-known yellow daffodil is probably a form of Narcissus pseudonarcissus, a wild daffodil.
Daffodil Are Members Of The Amaryllis Family
First of the Year
Although it was still July, and officially mid-Winter, when I took this photo, the daffodils, narcissi and jonquils in my garden were up, as they often are at this time of the year.
Many of them had buds. I love seeing the first shoots of my bulbs coming up from June, the start of Winter - it makes Spring seem not so very far away.
The First Jonquils Of The Year
Daffodils En Masse
Daffodils In Literature
There are many references to daffodils and narcissi in literature. One very famous poem about the daffodil is Robert Herrick's "To Daffodils"
Fair daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attain'd his noon.
Other authors who have used narcissi in their works include Oscar Wilde (The Disiple), and Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist).
I'm sure there are many more references to these flowers in poetry and literature, far too numerous to list here. You'll find the most famous daffodil poem I know off a little further on in this article.
It was fascinating doing a search for trivia about the daffodil, and its relatives, narcissi, and jonquils. Here are a few of the bits and pieces I discovered:
- Wales, in the UK, has the Daffodil as its national flower.
- Giving someone a single daffodil could be unlucky. Instead, give a bunch of the flowers, for happiness.
- If you are born in March, the daffodil is your flower.
- Daffodils are a symbol of rebirth and hope.
- Daffodils are the flower to give on a 10th anniversary.
- Some people who keep poultry would not allow daffodils, jonquils, and narcissi in their gardens, as it was believed these plants would stop the birds laying.
Do You Like Daffodils, Jonquils and Narcissi?
The Legend Of Narcissus
Sometimes you hear that the narcissus was named after an ancient Greek called Narcissus, but this is very likely just a legend. The story is a little moralistic, but here's a shortened version.
Narcissus was reputed to be very handsome, but also very vain, and he loved to look at, and admire himself.
One day, he was sitting by a pond, admiring his reflection, and leaned over just a little too far. Falling in, he was unable to save himself, and drowned.
It is said that a flower grew from his burial place, and this flower became known as the Narcissus.
A Cluster Of Narcissi
Trivia About Daffodil Bulbs
Daffodil bulbs are reputed to contain a substance which is toxic and can paralyse. Fortunately, they are supposed to taste revolting, so we don't eat them! They have been confused with onions in the past, and eating them has caused illness and even death.
Another name for daffodil is narcissus, and this word probably comes from the Greek "narke", meaning numbness. It is also probably where the word "narcotic" comes from.
Roman soldiers were reputed to carry a few daffodil, or narcissus bulbs with them into battle. If they were wounded very badly and had no hope of survival, they would eat the bulbs, and hopefully, die peacefully.
Warning: Don't eat a daffodil bulb to find out it this is true - there could be serious consequences!
The Pheasant's Eye
Pheasant's Eye Narcissus
The pheasant's eye narcissus, Narcissus poeticus, is one of the earliest types known. It has been mentioned in ancient Greek writings dated about 350 BCE. It gets to about 30 cm in height, and the blossoms are beautiful.
Pheasant's Eyes are my very favourite narcissi, I think because they are one of the earliest flowers I can remember from my childhood.
This narcissus has a very strong fragrance. Personally, I love the scent of them, and in fact, all daffodils, jonquils, and narcissi, but many people find that they are too strongly scented.
This flower is grown for its essential oil, which is often used in perfumes.
Narcissus With Bumblebee
Care Of Bulbs
Daffodils, jonquils, and narcissi are fairly hardy plants, and need very little care, really.
Dead flower heads should be removed as soon as possible. Bulbs should be planted in Autumn, and early Autumn is the best time. Plant the bulbs about 10 cm into the earth.
It is advisable to leave the dying leaves on the plant, as these will rot into the ground and help the plants health for the next season.
Some people dig their bulbs out of the ground once they have died down, and plant them again in the following Autumn. Leaving them in the ground is fine also, although you may not get as many blooms as when you lift them.
It is not a good idea to put cut daffodil, jonquil and narcissus flowers in a vase with other flowers, as the toxin in the sap can kill them.
The white jonquils in this photo are of a very strongly perfumed jonquil I have in my garden. Since I was given the bulbs, I have no idea what variety they are, but they're one of my favourites.
If you can identify them, please let me know - I think they are one of the older varieties, possibly one called "Early Cheer".
Daffodils - by William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth's Poem
I don't think a lens about daffodils would be complete without a reference to William Wordsworth's famous poem. This was something we had to learn in school, and I have to admit to not caring for it very much. Now that I'm older, I can see it has it's points.
There are hundreds of different hybrid daffodils, jonquils and narcissi around, and pink cultivars are becoming more common. The photo is of a cultivar called Pink Charm. Isn't it beautiful? So unusual, too.
If I ever find pink daffodils of any variety at my local market or nursery, they'll definitely be on my shopping list! Pink Charm is one I'm currently looking for.
Narcissi and Jonquils - Flowers from my gardenClick thumbnail to view full-size
Hosts Of Daffodils
Daffodils Were A Part Of My Childhood
When I was a child, we visited a very large private garden; it must have been several acres at least. It was on a slope, and at the bottom was a wooded area, which had been left almost natural, with a winding path through it.
Standing at the top of the slope and looking down at this wooded section, you'd see hundreds of mixed narcissi and jonquils, of all colours and sizes. The photo above reminds me very much of this, and some happy times playing in this garden.
Another New Flower
Often, in Spring when we go to Sunday Market, I can't resist buying myself more daffodils. This type is a miniature, and is only about 8 inches high, and don't get bothered by high winds as much as the full sized varieties. Here they are planted under a pittosporum , where I hope they'll spread.