Currently, daffodils are blooming in our garden. They come in many different shades of yellow, white and orange and in quite a few shapes.

A selection of daffodil portraits

Some daffodils have a lovely fragrance. The small species on the photo below, also called jonquil, comes originally from Spain. It has a particularly intense fragrance that is extracted as daffodil oil, which is used in perfumes.

Narcissus jonquilla a small delicate daffodil with grass-like leaves and fragrant flowers.

Daffodils can be fragrant and they are definitely pretty. But they should remain eye-candy only because all daffodils are also poisonous. (How often did I write this already! A lot of pretty plants contain toxins.)

And more pretty daffodils

Our garden daffodils are derived from various species of the genus Narcissus that are native to the old world. They have been hybridized and cultivated for centuries with great success. This explains why there are so many beautiful varieties.

A plate showing double daffodils from the garden book “Hortus Eystettensis” from 1613.

The botanical name “Narcissus” has an interesting background in Greek mythology. According to this tale, the beautiful hunter Narcissus fell in love with his own image when he saw it reflected in a pool of water. He could not keep his eyes off and lost his will to live. Then, depending on the story teller, he died or committed suicide. Supposedly, yellow flowers that bend their head emerged where he perished. Whether the flowers were really named after the narcissistic youth is not certain, but it makes for a nice story.

Narcissus as depicted on a tapestry from the 14th century (at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston). There are daffodils among the flowers in the background!

Pretty soon, the beauty of the daffodils will fade and we’ll be left with the leaves for many weeks.  They will die back, too, after having supplied the bulb in the ground with the energy for next year’s bloom. The longer we bear with them (we do get tempted to cut them back), the better the show will be in spring 2018.