This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Bulbous plants with all the leaves radical, linear and narrow. Scapes one or more flowered; flowers spathose, white or some shade of yellow. Perianth tubular below, with an appendage at the mouth called a crown or corona; segments spreading or reflexed. Stamens usually equalling the crown, filaments free or adnate to the perianth. Capsule coriaceous. The name of this genus is of mythological origin. The species and varieties are very numerous and somewhat difficult of discrimination. Mr. Baker's review of the genus in the 'Gardeners' Chronicle' for 1869 being the most useful guide to the species and varieties we are acquainted with, we reproduce that in an abridged form. He arranges them under three divisions, according to the size of the crown, viz :
I. Magnicoronate. - Crown as long or rather longer than the divisions of the perianth.
There are only three well-marked species belonging to this group, one of which is very rare in a wild state and hardly known in cultivation. They are distinguished as follows : Tube inversely conical, varying from as long to twice as long as broad, with the stamens from the bottom: divisions of the perianth more or less ascending.
Filaments and style curved; divisions of the perianth linear-lanceolate, a line to an eighth of an inch broad at the base . . . 1. N. Bulbocodium,
Filaments and style straight; divisions of the perianth oblong-lanceolate, 5 to 6 lines broad at the base
2. N. Pseudo-Narcissus.
Tube cylindrical, rather widened at the top, five or six times as long as broad; divisions of the perianth distinctly reflexed.....3. N. Calathinus.
II. Mediocoronatae. - Crown half as long as the divisions, or sometimes three-quarters as long.
Of this group there are seven leading types, but two of these are not known in a wild state.
DIVISIONs of the perianth distinctly reflexed . 4. N. triandrus.
DIVISIONs of the perianth spreading at a right angle from the base of the crown. Large-flowered; the divisions 9 to 12 lines long, and the corona 5 to 6 lines. Divisions of the limb white.
Crown white, half as long as the divisions 5. N. poculiformis. Crown bright yellow, three-quarters as long as the divisions . . . . . 6. N. Macleaii.
Crown and limb both yellow.
Flowers always solitary; leaf 6 to 7 lines broad, glaucous . . . . 7. N. incomparabilis.
Flowers 1 or 2; leaf 3 to 4 lines broad, bright green . . . . . . . 8. N. odorus.
Small-flowered; the divisions 3 to 6 lines deep, and the crown half as long. . Divisions and limb bright yellow, leaf green, cylindrical . . . . . . 9. N. juncifolius.
DIVISIONs and limb white, leaf glaucous, flattish 10. N. dubius.
III. Parvicoronatae - Crown less than half, as long as the divisions of the perianth.
Of this group we may define eleven leading types. Limb of the flower horizontal, or nearly so, when expanded; anthers sessile or nearly so. Flowering in Spring.
Crown cup-shaped, 2 to 4 lines deep, with its margin uniform with that of the limb. Leaves glaucous, flattish, 6 to 8 lines broad 11. N. Tazetta. Leaves sub-terete, green.
Flowers 1 or 2, nearly white, with a tube 12 to 14 lines long . 12. N. gracilis.
Flowers 3 to 6, yellow, with a tube 8 to 9 lines long ...... 13. N. intermedius.
Crown obconical, uniform, not more than a line deep. Flowers white; leaves flattish, glaucous, 3 to 4 lines broad......14 N.pachybolbos.
Flowers bright yellow; leaves terete, bright green
15. N. Jonquilla. Crown obconical, 1 to 1 1/2 line deep, the edge different in texture to the rest, and much crisped and crenulate. Flowers in pairs; crown with a yellow rim 16. N. biflorus. Flowers solitary; crown with a scarlet rim 17. N. poeticus. Flowering in Autumn.
Leaves contemporaneous with the flowers.
Divisions of the flowers greenish . . 18. N. viridiflorus.
Divisions of the flowers white . 19. N. elegans.
Leaves produced after the flowers . . 20. N. serotinus.
Limb of the flower campanulate; crown nearly obsolete; anthers shorter than their filaments . 21. N. Broussonettii.
We have given the key in full in order to enable cultivators to identify their species; but we must limit ourselves to noticing more fully those only which are in general cultivation.
1. N. Bulbocodium. Hoop Petticoat. - One of the commonest in cultivation, and almost universally known. It is about 4 to 8 inches high; scape 1-flowered; flowers not drooping, with a very short pedicel within the spathe; perianth gradually widening from the base upwards. Flowers bright yellow, appearing in April or May. A native of Southern Europe and North Africa.
This species constitutes the genus Corbularia of Haworth, and includes several more or less distinct varieties, some of which have been described as distinct species.
2. N. Pseudo-Narcissus. Daffodil or Lent Lily. - Usually about a foot high; scape flat, always 1-flowered; flowers yellow, with the crown of a darker tint. This is a common European plant from Sweden to the Mediterranean.
This forms the genus Ajax of Haworth, and is readily divided into five tolerably distinct forms. The ordinary N. Pseudo-Narcissus; N. major larger in all its parts than the preceding, with all parts of the flower uniform in colour. Both of these are very commonly seen double. N. minor (fig. 237), very much smaller than the type, with the leaves shorter than the scape, flowers uniform in colour; N. blcolor, resembling the type in size, but with the crown of a bright yellow, and the divisions of the limb pale sulphur-yellow; it also flowers later than the other varieties. N. moschatus is a uniform coloured variety with large or medium flowers of a very pale yellow, becoming almost white.
Fig. 237. Narcissus minor. (1/4 nat. size.)
3. N. Calathinus is very distinct from the two foregoing, but is rarely seen in cultivation.
4. N. tridndrus is a native of Spain, and there have been several varieties in cultivation, though they are rare now.
5. N. poculiformis. - This has not been found growing wild, and is generally supposed to be a garden form, resulting from a cross between N. dubius and N. Pseudo-Narcissus var. mos-chatus. It is perhaps better known as N. montanus. The flowers are pure white, drooping, and sweet-scented, appearing in April.
6. N. Macleaii. - Also of garden origin, resembling the bicolor variety of Pseudo-Narcissus, but with a smaller crown.
7. N. incomparabilis. - A native of Southern Europe, common in gardens, with two principal varieties. It is about the same size as the common Daffodil, but the crown is always shorter than in that species, even in the double flowers. N. aurantius, including N. Gouani (fig. 238), is a robust variety with the crown orange, and the divisions of the perianth sulphur-yellow. Double-flowered forms are the Nonpareils and Butter-and-Eggs of English gardens. N. albus, with paler divisions and an orange crown, produces a double form known as the Orange Phoenix.
Fig. 238. Narcissus Gouani. (1/4 nat. size.)
Fig. 239. Narcissus odorus. (1/4 nat. size.)
8. N. odorus (fig. 239). - A very distinct species approaching the typical N. incomparabilis, but differing in its leaves being very concave, flowers bright yellow, very fragrant and rarely solitary. A native of the South of Europe.
9. N. juncifolius, a very small plant with terete leaves and bright yellow flowers, from the South of Europe. It blooms in April.
10. N. dubius, similar to the last, but having pure white flowers, not known in English gardens.
11. N. Tazetta. - This is the commonest of the several-flowered Daffodils, and is very prolific in forms. It is found in a wild state from the South of Europe, through Syria and North India, to China and Japan. It blooms in March or April, and has flattened scapes, with fragrant flowers. The forms are arranged by Mr. Baker in three series, characterised as follows : 1. Segments of the limb white, crown yellow; which includes N. lacticolor, N. polyanthus, N. Mediterraneus, and N. ochro-leucus. 2. Crown and segments of the limb both pure white; includes N. papyraceus and N. Panizzianus. 3. Crown and segments of the limb both yellow; contains N. Italicus, N. aureus, and N. chrysanthus.
12. N. gracilis. - A plant about a foot high with sub-terete leaves and yellowish or nearly white flowers, well known in cultivation, and supposed to be of hybrid origin.
13. N. intermedius. - Is a native of Spain and the South of France. It has the same cup-shaped crown as the last two, differing from Tazetta in its sub-terete leaves, and from gracilis in its smaller flowers.
14. N. pachybolbos comes from Algeria, but does not appear to be in cultivation.
15. N. Jonquilla. Jonquil. - A native of the Mediterranean region. It has been confounded with N. juncifolius, but it is much more robust in habit, with larger more numerous flowers, and a crown considerably shorter in proportion to the limb. The flowers are invariably of a beautiful bright yellow, and very fragrant. It is often seen with double flowers.
16. N. biflorus. - A very common species with white flowers, having a yellow rim to the crown. It is often met with in a wild state in this country and on the Continent.
17. N. poeticus (fig. 240). - From the South of Europe, and one of the prettiest species of the genus, the flowers being pure white with a scarlet border to the crown. There are several
49° Amaryllideae - Narcissus.
varieties, including N. radiiflorus which is considered a distinct species by some bo :anists, N. stellaris, N. recurvus, AT. poetarum, and N. verbe-nensis, a very slender late variety.
18. N. viridiflorus, a native of Spain and Bar-bary, having greenish flowers. This and 19, AT. elegans, and 20, A7. serotinus, are Autumn-flowering species, and may be distinguished by reference to the above key. 21. N. Broussonettii is a rare plant from Mogadore, in which the crown is very slightly developed. It is not in cultivation, and is merely mentioned here to complete the list of known species.
Fig. 240. Narcissus poeticus. (1/4 nat. size.)