Capitol Corridor
University of California
Capitol Corridor

Through the Garden Gate: Narcissus, Herald of Spring

Narcissus are the herald of spring, with their trumpet-shaped and brightly colored blooms, they are a sight for sore eyes, announcing the warmer days are coming. These early spring-blooming bulbs now come in shades of white, yellow, orange, pink, and green, many with combinations of colors. They have a variety of common names as well, including Narcissus, Daffodil, Jonquil, Paperwhites, Pheasants Eye, and Poet's Daffodil.  Although many of these names originated with a specific variety or are from a specific geographical area, the names are all used and taken by travelers everywhere, so you could hear any names used with any variety.

As a common flowering bulb, they grow all over our county and now around the world.  They are easy to grow and tolerate in almost all soils. They will spread and eventually become “fields of daffodils” given appropriate growing conditions. They bloom early and will wither and make room for summer blooms to come.

They are associated with much folklore and myths. One of the earliest mentions in the western world is in Greek mythology. A hunter and son of a river god, Narcissus, who was very vain and self-obsessed fell in love with his reflection in a stream where he stopped to drink in a stream. He was punished for his vanity by the gods and could not leave his reflection. He died in place, and where he had been, a narcissus flower bloomed, a reminder of the danger of vanity and self-obsession.

Although most mythological references are positive, it also carries a negative connotation with some. For example, although it was adopted as a positive symbol by the American Cancer Association, symbolizing hope for a cure, some think it symbolizes death which can come from cancer.

Daffodil is the March birth flower and the 10th wedding anniversary bloom, where they symbolize new beginnings. In Chinese culture, it is often used in weddings where it signifies the blossoming of the marriage bond. Also, in Chinese culture, it is believed to bring good luck when the flower blooms during the Chinese New Year. 

Some believe the flower will provide protection to warding off evil spirits and breaking negative spells. Others think narcissus are a good luck charm and aphrodisiac, and some wear them as an amulet.

Regardless of any associated myths, they will brighten up your garden and your spirit when they bloom.

photos by David Bellamy
photos by David Bellamy

Daffodil yello with droplets
Daffodil yello with droplets

Posted on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 3:33 PM

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