Narcissus poeticus

This article is written by Arundhati Chatterjee.

Narcissus poeticus is the oldest type of daffodils. It is an heirloom species that is considered to be the closest one of the natural wildflower types. They are the first species of daffodils that were cultivated. These spring blooming flowers are perfect for your garden if you want a real wild look and a mesmerizing display.

Nomenclature and Mythology : The name Narcissus poeticus was given by the ‘Father of Taxonomy’ Carolus Linnaeus after its mythological significance. This ancient species of daffodils is said to have inspired the story of the Greek legend Narcissus, who was so handsome that he fell in love with his own shadow in a reflecting pool. Later his body disappeared and N. poeticus flowers sprang at that particular place. Later the whole daffodil genus is called ‘Narcissus’ but adding the species name ‘poeticus’ to this one shows early connections of this species that has been handed down by poets from ancient times.

Common Names : This unique species of daffodils is called Pheasant’s eye (having the appearance of the eyes of a pheasant); Poet’s Narcissus (after it’s mythological significance); Pinkster lily; Findern Flower (named after the village of Findern where this flower still grows naturally); it is a popular white flower in India as ‘Nargis’, which means ‘beautiful’ in Urdu.

Distribution : This flower is native to Central and Southern Europe. It is naturalized in much of the eastern United States and in British Columbia. In India, this white showy flower has naturalized in Gulmarg, Kashmir.

Description : This authentic wild species of daffodils is a kind of perennial bulbs, which means they need least maintenance. Once they are established properly, you are ready to get a long-lasting white flower garden.

The bulbs are ovoid in shape and brown in color.

The beautiful appearance of the poet’s daffodils has inspired poets from ancient times. It is surrounded by pure white tepals (unseparated petals and sepals) and short corona of light yellow with distinct red edge (giving it the exact look of a pheasant’s eye).

This wildflower is extremely fragrant. But the fragrance might cause nausea and vomiting if a large quantity is stored in a closed room.

The length of the flower is usually 20-40 cm or 1-3 inch. The shoots are without leaves like another monocot species.

Habitat : The N. poeticus flowers grow in meadows, mountains and cultivated beds.

Scientific Classification :

Kingdom : Plantae
Class : Monocots
Order : Asparagales
Family : Amaryllidaceae
Genus : Narcissus
Species : poeticus

Uses : This species of daffodils is extremely toxic in nature. Among all the species, this one considered to be the most toxic. However, it is of much use, such as:

Medicinal Uses : In Ayurveda, N. poeticus oil is said to have relaxing and calming properties. Besides, it is mentioned in Materia Medica that it draws out splinters if taken with Loliacean meal and honey. In Korea, it is used to trat conjunctivitis, urethritis and amenorrhoea.

Use in Perfumes : The essential oil of this flower is one of the key ingredients used in modern day’s perfumes. In Netherland and southern Fance this flower is cultivated for its essential oils.

Planting and Care : This is the type of daffodils that requires very low maintenance, hence preferred by many gardeners for their white flower garden.

Soil : Poet’s daffodils easily grow in medium moisture in soil. The soil should be well drained. They grow best in organically rich loams. Good soil drainage is essential. It’s better to avoid low lying lands where water gathers easily or snow takes a lot of time to melt in spring. Daffodil bulbs grow well if planted at a depth three times the height of the bulb.

Sunlight : These sun-facing wildflowers can be planted either in full sun or partial shade.

Watering : Watering during the fall is recommended but excessive watering may damage the dormant bulbs.

Pests and Diseases : Very few pests bother this species of daffodils as the plant is poisonous to most of the animals and insects including Deer, rabbits and voles. One thing t look out for is viral infection. Whenever you see an infected plant, don’t delay plucking it out of the garden as it may infect the whole group.

Fertilizer : Fall or early spring are the perfect time to fertilize these plants.