Narcissus is a genus of flowering plants of the Amaryllidaceae (amaryllis) family.
Various common names including daffodil, daffadowndilly, narcissus and jonquil are used to describe all or some members of the genus.
Plural form of narcissus is Narcissi or narcissuses or narcissus.
There are about 50 species of narcissus.
The species are native to southern Europe and North Africa with a centre of diversity in the Western Mediterranean, particularly the Iberian peninsula.
Their native habitats are very varied, with different elevations, bioclimatic areas and substrates, being found predominantly in open spaces ranging from low marshes to rocky hillsides and montane pastures, and including grassland, scrub, woods, river banks and rocky crevices.
Historical accounts suggest narcissi have been cultivated from the earliest times.
Both wild and cultivated plants have naturalised widely, and were introduced into the Far East prior to the tenth century.
It become increasingly popular in Europe after the 16th century and by the late 19th century were an important commercial crop centered primarily on the Netherlands.
The long history of breeding has resulted in thousands of different cultivars.
Today, narcissi are popular as cut flowers and as ornamental plants in private and public gardens.
Most species are perennials and emerge from bulbs in the spring.
The flattened leaves arise from the base of the plant and range in height from 5 centimeters (2 inches) to 1.2 meters (4 feet), depending on the species. The central crown of each yellow, white, or pink flower ranges in shape from the form of a trumpet, as in the daffodil, to a ringlike cup, as in the poet’s narcissus. Some species hybridize in the wild, and many horticultural crosses between species have resulted in attractive garden hybrids.
This flower carries meanings like:
• Prosperity and wealth, especially in the future
• March birthdays, as the birth flower of the month
• The arrival of spring
• Rebirth and renewal
• Good luck and happiness
• Future misfortune
• Narcissism and egotism
• The austerity and challenges of Lent
• Clarity and inspiration
• The Chinese New Year
The English word “daffodil” appears to be derived from “asphodel”, with which it was commonly compared.
The derivation of the Latin narcissus is unknown, but may be connected with hell.
It is frequently linked to the myth of Narcissus, who became so obsessed with his own reflection in water that he drowned and the narcissus plant sprang from where he died.
The name Narcissus was not uncommon for men in Roman times.
The daffodil is the national flower of Wales and the symbol of cancer charities in many countries.
Narcissi produce a number of different alkaloids, which provide some protection for the plant, but may be poisonous if accidentally ingested. This property has been exploited for medicinal use in traditional healing and has resulted in the production of galantamine for the treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia.