The Name

One of the flowers most associated with March is the Narcissus or wild daffodil which is also known as the Lent Lily because it blooms early in spring and usually all through lent.

Daffodil is the common English name but the bulb is the Amaryllis family native to Europe. The name Narcissus was taken from Greek mythology and there are many variations of the tale. A boy called Narcissus was said to have been so obsessed with his own refection that one day he actually fell into the water and drowned. It is said that a new flower appeared in the place where he fell and some people even believed it he turned into the flower.

Shape and Colour

With a central trumpet surrounded by a ring of six petals, the traditional daffodil should be yellow to yellow-golden all over. However, due to breeding, some daffodils have double or even triple petals and can be white and even orange in colour. There are believed to be nearly a hundred species and hybrids.

Good and Bad

In traditional Japanese medicine, wounds were treated with narcissus root and wheat flour paste. However, a common complaint of florists is ‘daffodil itch’ which is a dermatitis problem involving dryness, scaling and erythema in the hands.

What Else

The daffodil became popular in Wales in the 19th Century. Lloyd George used it to symbolise Wales at the Investiture of 1911 and in official publications. In England William Wordsworth wrote his famous poem “Daffodils” which starts: I wander’d lonely as a cloud.

I wander’d lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
By William Wordsworth