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12 Interesting Facts About Narcissus Flower

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The narcissus flower, more commonly known as the daffodil or jonquil, is one of the most popular spring flowers. With its bright yellow and white cup-shaped blooms, this flower has quite an interesting history and background.

Here are 12 fascinating facts you may not know about the beloved narcissus:

1. Narcissus is Named After a Character in Greek Mythology

The Narcissus flower gets its name from the ancient Greek myth of Narcissus. As legend goes, Narcissus was an exceptionally handsome young hunter who was exceptionally vain. The mountain nymph Echo fell in love with him, but he rejected her advances. As punishment, the goddess Nemesis lured Narcissus to a pool of water where he became so enamored with his reflection that he could not pull himself away. He eventually died by the pool’s edge, and the narcissus flower sprouted where his body once laid.

2. They Come in Over 50 Different Species

While most of us picture the bright yellow daffodil when we think of narcissus, there are actually over 50 different species within the Narcissus genus. The most popular varieties grown in gardens are Narcissus pseudonarcissus (common daffodil) and Narcissus jonquilla (jonquils).

3. Daffodils and Jonquils Are Types of Narcissus

The terms daffodil, narcissus, and jonquil are sometimes used interchangeably. However, daffodil and jonquil are just two common names used to describe species within the Narcissus genus. So while all daffodils and jonquils are narcissus flowers, not all narcissus are classified as daffodils or jonquils.

4. There Are Over 13,000 Registered Narcissus Hybrids

In addition to wild narcissus species, over 13,000 hybrid varieties have been registered with the Royal Horticultural Society. Hybridization of daffodils began in the 1700s and has resulted in an incredible diversity of colors, shapes, sizes, and bloom times.

Narcissus-flowered Anemone
Narcissus-flowered Anemone

5. They Are One of the First Flowers to Bloom Each Spring

An early spring bloom time is one of the characteristics that makes narcissus so popular. Depending on your hardiness zone, they may begin flowering as early as January or February. This early emergence brightens gardens and signals that winter is coming to an end.

6. Narcissus Bulbs Can Last Up to 50 Years

One reason narcissus naturalize so well is that their bulbs are exceptionally long-lived. Narcissus bulbs can continue flowering for up to 50 years when planted in the proper conditions. This makes them a great value, as you can enjoy their blooms year after year with very little maintenance required.

7. They Are the National Flower of Wales

In addition to their wild popularity in gardens, narcissus holds special meaning for the people of Wales. The daffodil was adopted as the national flower of Wales in the 19th century, where they have come to symbolize nature and rebirth.

8. The Sap Can Irritate Skin

While narcissus flowers have an intoxicating floral scent, the sap inside their stems and leaves contains calcium oxalate crystals. For most people, contact with these crystals causes a temporarily skin irritation. So while the flowers themselves are harmless, you’ll want to handle narcissus foliage carefully.

9. They Are Toxic to Cats and Dogs

The narcissus plant contains lycorine, an alkaloid that is highly toxic to household pets. When ingested, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even liver failure. So if you have furry friends at home, make sure to keep daffodils and other narcissus out of their reach.

10. Romans Brought Narcissus to England

Narcissus species are native to meadows and woodlands in Southern Europe and North Africa. But it’s believed that Roman conquerors first introduced narcissus bulbs to England over 2,000 years ago. From England, narcissus later traveled to America and other areas of the former British Empire.

11. They Represent Friendship & Respect

Beyond their bright beauty, narcissus flowers carry symbolic meaning in the Victorian flower language. Specifically, they represent respect, friendship, and regard. This makes them a thoughtful gift for dear friends. They also convey cheerfulness, which brightens their recipient.

12. Narcissus Are the Traditional 10th Anniversary Flower

Speaking of gift giving, narcissus carry special significance for couples celebrating 10 years of marriage. Their early spring blooms represent the memories a couple has created in the first decade together.

With their bright spring blooms and rich background, it’s no wonder narcissus continues to be top spring bulb choice of gardeners today. The next time to admire these flowers, remember there’s more to them than meets the eye.

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