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All About Narcissus Flowers

All About Narcissus Flowers

Narcissus flowers are a group of flowers that are native to the Mediiterranean area but have eben cultivated in many areas of the world and have a widespread popularity.  These flowers grow from bulbs and generally have white or yellow flowers. Highly popular in Germany, these flowers are well known in at least one of their forms nearly everywhere.

Although there are many Narcissus flowers, there are three popularly seen types of flowers in the Narcissus genus.  These are Jonquils, Daffodils, and Paperwhites.  Each of these three is a different flower that blooms at a different time and is a little different in appearance.  Jonquils are known for dark greenery and clusters of yellow blooms that appear early in the growing season.  Daffodils, which are by far the best known and most popular of the Narcissus genus worldwide, have larger blooms.  Paperwhites, as the name implies, have white blossoms and are also early flowering – they are also very fragrant.

The shape of the blossom on the Narcissus flowers is quite distinctive.  The base is narrow and tubular, expanding to a wider cup shaped opening.  The blossoms have three petals and three perianth which are sepals that are petal-like.  Narcissus flowers are also well known for its fragrance. Some believe that the name of the Narcissus flowers, which means numbness or stupor in Greek comes from the strength of the fragrance itself, said to be narcotic in nature.  Others believe the name comes from the fact that the bulbs of the Narcissus plant are poisonous.

Another version of where the name of the flowers came from is Greek as well, and derives from the mythical figure of Narcissus in Greek legend.  Either way, the name itself has changed over time as Narcissus flowers have come to be known mostly as Daffodils, even though not all Narcissus flowers are in fact Daffodils.  The popularity of the term has overcome the use of the genus name and seems to have stuck, possibly because it is a simpler name to use and spell.

Narcissus flowers themselves are not poisonous, but the bulbs in to some degree the leaves are.  Because the bulbs resemble onions, there are stories of their accidental ingestion causing severe illness.  Florists also often report cases of contact dermatitis resulting from touching the Narcissus plants regularly.  Although the toxic nature of the plant is well known, they continue to be popular since Narcissus flowers are so beautiful and poisoning incidents are rare.

Narcissus flowers are also known to have some medicinal properties, and one of th derivatives is used in a drug for treating Alzheimer’s disease.  It also has a cultural importance to many cultures including the Greeks and Chinese, mostly in ancient times.

A beautiful blooming plant with many different versions, Narcissus flowers add color to your garden and are easy to plant and to grow, making them popular with novice and experienced gardeners alike.  Their popularity in gardens around the world ensures we will see them blooming for a long time.

Photo courtesy of matsuyuki.

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