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10 Neat Things About Daffodils
by Shauna Dobbie
by Dorothy Dobbie

The Local Gardener magazines, Ontario Gardener, Manitoba Gardener and Alberta Gardener, are published by Pegasus Publications Inc.

Drawing on her 30 years' experience as a senior executive in the magazine publishing industry, Dorothy launched Manitoba Gardener in 1998, initially running the business out of her home. Two years later, Dorothy's daughter Shauna, living in Ontario, jumped into the fray with Ontario Gardener. And two years after that, they started Alberta Gardener. Visit us at and register for our "Ten Neat things" newsletter. Watch Shaw TV for garden tips and Listen to CJOB for the Gardener Sundays at 9:08

September 18, 2011

  1. Daffodil versus narcissus. Flowers of the genus Narcissus are commonly called daffodils, but are all narcissuses daffodils? Would you call paper whites or jonquils daffodils? The American Daffodil Society contends that all daffodils are narcissuses and all narcissuses are daffodils. The group prefers "daffodil" for all but scientific use.
  2. Plurals. Narcissuses, narcissi and narcissus are all correct in different English-speaking regions.
  3. Seeds. Daffodils increase in your garden from year to year, mostly through bulb division. The flowers can set seed, though it is less common because they don't always get pollinated. As well, when you do get seeds they take a good five years to produce a blooming plant.
  4. Greek daffodils. The name narcissus is linked to a figure of the same name in ancient Greek mythology. It seems he was so beautiful that he was entranced by his reflection in a pool of water. Eventually he fell into the water and drowned, but the first daffodil sprang up from that spot. The word narcissus is also linked to the Greek word that means to grow numb, which the narcotic compounds in daffodils will cause to happen.
  5. Chinese daffodils. While these flowers are associated with vanity in Europe, in China they are a symbol of good fortune. Ancient Chinese legends tell of daffodils bearing cups of gold for the poor but kind.
  6. Welsh daffodils. Daffodils are a national emblem of Wales, probably because, before blooming, they can look like leeks, an older national emblem. Wearing a daffodil on St. David's day is a Welsh tradition, but bringing daffs into the house is considered an affront to spring by some strict Welsh traditionalists.
  7. Colours. Aside from the familiar yellow and white daffodils, there are many partially and wholly pink varieties as well as several with green markings.
  8. Poison. All parts of daffodils contain lycorine, a toxic compound. Ingested in great quantities, it would be fatal. That's why squirrels don't eat daffodil bulbs. If the little beggars didn't know the daffodil bulbs are poisonous maybe there'd be some crocuses left in my garden.
  9. Daff disease. Fine yellow streaks that run the length of the leaves and are there as the foliage emerges indicate a virus called yellow streak. Yellow streak is incurable and it is contagious to other daffodils. Get rid of the infected plant and bulb before the disease spreads.
  10. A host of golden daffodils. William Wordsworth wrote his poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" in response to coming upon a great swath of daffodils in the woods one day in the Lake District of England. The Lake District tourism department has. let's just say reinterpreted the poem in this video:

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