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Narcissus poeticus


Narcissus poeticus (poet's daffodil, poet's narcissus, nargis, pheasant's eye, findern flower, and pinkster lily) was one of the first daffodils to be cultivated, and is frequently identified as the narcissus of ancient times (although Narcissus tazetta and Narcissus jonquilla have also been considered as possibilities). It is also often associated with the Greek legend of Narcissus. It is the type species of the genus Narcissus and is widely naturalized in North America.


The flower is extremely fragrant, with a ring of petals in pure white and a short corona of light yellow with a distinct reddish edge.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> It grows to Template:Convert tall.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Linnaeus, Carl von. 1753. Species Plantarum 1: 289, Narcissus poeticus</ref><ref>Rafinesque, Constantine Samuel. 1838. Flora Telluriana 4: 20, as Autogenes angustifolius and Autogenes poeticus</ref>


It is commonly known as 'pheasant's-eye daffodil' or 'poet's narcissus' (in the UK), 'claudinette', 'narcisse', 'narcisse poetes' and 'oeil de faisan' (in France), 'weiße Narzisse' (in German), 'narciso (in Italian and Spanish) and 'narciso blanco' and 'trompón' (in Spanish) and 'pingstlilja' (in Swedish).<ref name=grin/> It is also occasional y known as 'Pinkster lily'.<ref name=Mansfeld>Peter Hanelt (Editor) for Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research Template:Google books</ref><ref>S. Theresa Dietz Template:Google books</ref>

It was published and described by Carl Linnaeus in his book Species Plantarum on page 289 in 1753.<ref name=grin/><ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

It was verified by United States Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Service on 9 July 2015.<ref name=grin>Template:Cite web</ref>


Narcissus poeticus is native to central and southern Europe from Spain, France through Switzerland, Austria to Croatia, Greece and Ukraine.<ref name=Mansfeld/> It is naturalized in Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, Azerbaijan, Turkey, New Zealand, British Columbia, Washington State, Oregon, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, and much of the eastern United States,<ref>Pugsley, Herbert William. 1915. Journal of Botany, British and Foreign 53 (Suppl. 2): 36, as Narcissus hellenicus</ref><ref>Sell, Peter Derek. 1996. Flora of Great Britain and Ireland 5: 363, as Narcissus poeticus subsp. majalis</ref><ref>Dulac, Joseph. 1867. Flore du Département des Hautes-Pyrénées, 133, as Stephanophorum purpuraceum</ref> from Louisiana and Georgia north to Maine and Wisconsin.<ref>Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families</ref><ref>Biota of North America Program</ref>

Use in perfume

Poet's daffodil is cultivated in the Netherlands and southern France for its essential oil,<ref name=Mansfeld/> narcissus oil, one of the most popular fragrances used in perfumes. Narcissus oil is used as a principal ingredient in 11% of modern quality perfumes—including 'Fatale' and 'Samsara'—as a floral concrete or absolute. The oil's fragrance resembles a combination of jasmine and hyacinth.<ref name="Groom">Template:Cite book</ref>

Legend and history

Botanical drawing, c. 1659 (N. poeticus in center)
Botanical drawing from Otto Wilhelm Thomé's Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz (1885)

The earliest mention of poet's daffodil is likely in the botanical writings of Theophrastus (371 – c. 287 BCE), who wrote about a spring-blooming narcissus that the Loeb Classical Library editors identify as Narcissus poeticus.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> The poet Virgil, in his fifth Eclogue, also wrote about a narcissus whose description corresponds with that of Narcissus poeticus.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> In one version of the myth about the Greek hero Narcissus, he was punished by the Goddess of vengeance, Nemesis, who turned him into a Narcissus flower that historians associate with Narcissus poeticus.<ref name="Lehner">Template:Cite book</ref><ref>"In the classic myth, Nemesis, the deity of vengeance, complying with Hera's order to punish Narcissus for his egotism, turns him into the narcissus flower (narcissus poeticus)" Peavy, p. 438.</ref><ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> The fragrant Narcissus poeticus has also been recognized as the flower that Persephone and her companions were gathering when Hades abducted her into the Underworld, according to Hellmut Baumann in The Greek Plant World in Myth, Art, and Literature. This myth accounts for the custom, which has lasted into modern times, of decorating graves with these flowers.<ref name="Baumann">Taken from Baumann, Hellmut, The Greek Plant World in Myth, Art, and Literature, London: The Herbert Press; 1993. Cited in Template:Cite journal</ref> Linnaeus, who gave the flower its name, quite possibly did so because he believed it was the one that inspired the tale of Narcissus, handed down by poets since ancient times.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>


In medicine, it was described by Dioscorides in his Materia Medica as "Being laid on with Loliacean meal, & honey it draws out splinters".<ref>Template:Cite web Template:Dead link</ref> James Sutherland also mentioned it in his Hortus Medicus Edinburgensis.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> In Korea, it is used to treat conjunctivitus, urethritis and amenorrhoea.<ref name=Mansfeld/>


Narcissus poeticus has long been cultivated in Europe. According to one legend, it was brought back to England from the crusades by Sir Geoffrey de Fynderne.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> It was still abundant in 1860 when historian Bernard Burke visited the village of Findern—where it still grows in certain gardens and has become an emblem of the village.<ref>Template:Cite web Template:Dead link</ref> It was introduced to America by the late 18th century,<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> when Bernard McMahon of Philadelphia offered it among his narcissus. It may be the "sweet white narcissus" that Peter Collinson sent John Bartram in Philadelphia, only to be told that it was already common in Pennsylvania, having spread from its introduction by early settlers.<ref>Ann Leighton, American Gardens in the Eighteenth Century: 'For Use or for Delight' (University of Massachusetts Press) 1986:459.</ref> The plant has naturalized throughout the eastern half of the United States and Canada, along with some western states and provinces.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Narcissus poeticus has long been hybridized with the wild British daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus, producing many named hybrids. These older heritage hybrids tend to be more elegant and graceful than modern hybrid daffodils, and are becoming available in the UK once again.<ref>Template:Cite news</ref>


While all narcissi are poisonous when eaten, poet's daffodil is more dangerous than others, acting as a strong emetic and irritant.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> The scent is powerful enough that it can cause headache and vomiting if a large quantity is kept in a closed room.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref>

Photo gallery



Other sources

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  • Munro, D. B. Canadian poisonous plants information system (on-line resource). (Can Poison Pl)
  • Pajaujis Anonis, D. Flower oils and floral compounds in perfumery. 1993 (Flower Oils)
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  • Salmon, M. 1993. Narcissus section Pseudonarcissus: its subspecies and their distribution (Daffodils) 1993-4:50.
  • Tutin, T. G. et al., eds. Flora europaea. 1964-1980 (F Eur)
  • Walters, S. M. et al., eds. European garden flora. 1986- (Eur Gard F)
  • Webb, D. A. 1978. Taxonomic notes on Narcissus L. In: V. E. Heywood (ed.), Flora europaea. Notulae systematicae ad floram Europaeam spectantes. No. 20 Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 76:298-307.

External links

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