Narcissus poeticus, or Poet’s Daffodil

0160_Poet's Daffodil

A new blossom unfurled in our garden just yesterday: Narcissus poeticus, or Poet’s Daffodil. This winsome, aromatic, white-petaled bloom is as fresh as spring itself, but don’t let a fresh face fool you. This fair flower is ancient.

Narcissus poeticus has been traced back to the 4th century, BC, where it’s described in the botanical scribblings of Theophrastus.

In his fifth Eclogue, the poet Virgil mentions a narcissus which fits the description of N. poeticus.

In Greek mythology, Nemesis, Goddess of Vengeance, punishes the Greek hero, Narcissus, by turning him into a blossom historians have long associated with N. poeticus.

Even gentle Persephone is said to have been plucking sweet bouquets of N. poeticus when Hades showed up to whisk her rudely away to the Underworld.

Legend has it that the Poet’s Daffodil, long cultivated in Europe, was carried to England by Sir Geoffrey de Fynderne following the Crusades. Today, Poet’s Daffodils, or Findern Flowers, remain an emblem of the village of Findern, UK.

Early American settlers brought N. poeticus to Philadelphia in the late 18th century; since that time, Poet’s Daffodils have naturalized throughout the eastern United States and Canada.

My penchant for poetry commanded I purchase these N. poeticus bulbs, which I discovered in a local garden center, last fall. (How had I never known there is a such a thing as a Poet’s Daffodil?)

Just outside the front door, our solitary Narcissus poeticus curtsies to the wind and enchants the cool morning air with fragrance, deeply satisfying my quest for the poetic and my love of history.

Mystery of mysteries – somehow, here in our small garden, what’s old is new again.

(Source: Wikipedia)

11 thoughts on “Narcissus poeticus, or Poet’s Daffodil

  1. i now ask the same question: how could we not have known of the N. Poeticus? i now dream of a vast field of them nodding, and wordsworth descending from the clouds to roll among them…..(by the way, wouldn’t it have been grand to be born into the name wordsworth? i wonder if he was in fact born into it, or whether he acquired it in a court of law?) hmmm….

    • When I saw the bulbs last fall, my heart took a wild leap, and I’ve waited in breathless anticipation for this inaugural blossom. A vast field of them nodding… purest romance! And I haven’t the least idea about Wordsworth. Might have to do some further research! xox

  2. Oh, loved your post! We have some of those Poet’s Daffodils, probably planted by my Grandma in the early 1900s ( or maybe even the people who lived in our old farmhouse before my grandparents. My Mom always called them Pheasant’s Eye daffodils. The aroma is very strong and sweet!

    • Thank you, Linda! I simply love knowing you have sweet, aromatic Poet’s Daffodils in bloom at your farmhouse! How charming, that these bulbs may have been planted by your grandmother in early 1900, or possibly even earlier, by former residents. Pheasant’s Eye is a wonderful name as well.

      Today, there are two more Poet’s Daffodil buds about to burst forth in our garden, and I’m overjoyed!

      Lovely to hear from you. Wishing you all the best! xox

  3. Amy, this is one of my most favorite plants of spring. It is the only Narcissus I have in my garden only because there is nothing like it. Like you I adore everything about it from its alluring fragrance to her yellow shirt lined in a frill of orange. But most of all I, too, love having plants in my garden that date far back in history and make me stop and linger at their beauty and lose myself in history. I often wonder who is that Greek hero hiding behind this veil of innocence and beauty. Mine are yet to come, but have broken ground and I await their arrival, ready to sound the horns.

    • Dearest Maude, how lovely to know that N. poeticus is the only Narcissus variety in your garden. I can well understand why – it’s replete with romance and history. I couldn’t believe my good fortune when I happened upon those N. poeticus bulbs last fall; when I began researching them, I was stunned by their marvelous history. I love knowing you’ve long known this history, and that soon, your N. poeticus will arrive with joyous fanfare! Always a delight to hear from you. Happy gardening, happy spring! xox

  4. Only here, dear Amy, could one find such a lovely conversation about a sweet spring bulb. I discovered N. poeticus just last year, too. I planted six — and await their debut. Thank you for sharing all this background, which I didn’t know. I went for looks alone!

    • Oh, Katrina – you’re going to love N. poeticus! I have two in bloom this morning, with a third on its way, and I feel as rich as Midas.

      It’s a special delight to realize that you, Maude, and I all have N. poeticus in our spring gardens. Makes me smile. Another thing you’ll love about N. poeticus, and all daffodils, for that matter: the deer won’t touch them! Lucky us. xoxo

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