Narcissus, the common as well as the botanical name of a genus of popular garden flowers. It is often said that the name is from that of the youth of Grecian mythology who was turned into the flower. Prior regards this as "an instance, among many more, of a legend written to a name," and considers it to be derived from, to become dumb, as it had the reputation of causing torpor or heaviness by its perfume. The genus belongs to the amaryllis family, and consists of bulbous-rooted plants, with flat or channelled, linear leaves, an often compressed or angular scape or flower stalk, at the top of which is a spathe, which bursts at one side and liberates one to several flowers. The tube of the perianth (calyx and corolla together) is prolonged above the ovary, with six equal spreading divisions; stamens six, of unequal length, included in a cup-shaped or tubular white or colored crown, which springs from the corolla-tube at their base; ovary three-celled, with a simple style and an obtuse stigma. This genus, which is mainly south European, extending into Asia, has been divided by some botanists in a most perplexing manner. While some regard it as containing only a few species, others, upon trivial characters, have made some 15 genera, with about 100 species.
In popular nomenclature the genus is divided into narcissus, jonquil, and daffodil. Those recognized as narcissuses have a very short, cup-like crown to the flower. One of the best known of these is the poets' narcissus (N poeticm), large clumps of which are common in old gardens; the scape, about a foot high, bears but a single flower, of the purest white color, yellowish at the throat, the small crimped crown with a bright pink or scarlet edge; there is a double variety in which the crown disappears; this species, which is very fragrant, especially when double, is a native of southern Europe from France to Greece. The two-flowered narcissus (N. M-florus) is also a native of the south of Europe, but has become thoroughly naturalized in England, and is thought to be native to some parts of that country; it has two white or pale straw-colored flowers to each stem, the flowers having a short yellow crown; this is also sweet-scented, and is the primrose peerless and pale daffodil of the old gardeners. The hoop-petticoat narcissus (N. bulbocodium) has its leaves and flower scapes 6 to 9 in. long; the solitary bright flower is 1½ to 2 in. long, with a very conspicuous cup, which widens rapidly toward the brim: it is an exceedingly neat and pretty species for the border or for pot culture.
The most prized of all is that known as the polyanthus narcissus, which originated from N. Tazetta, perhaps crossed with other species; the catalogues give numerous named varieties; in all the bulbs are large, the flat leaves about a foot long, and the flower stem, of about the same height, produces a cluster or umbel of six to ten large very fragrant flowers; in the different varieties corolla and cup are both of different shades of yellow, or the one is white while the other is yellow, and in some the cup is double. While this is the finest, it is the most tender of all; but in the climate of New York city, if planted 6 in. deep, and covered with litter, it flowers freely in spring. It is very popular for forcing for winter blooming. - The species known as jonquil (diminutiye of Span, junco, from Lat. juncus, a rush) is N. jonquilla, which has narrow rush-like or half cylindrical leaves, which with the flower scapes are about a foot long; flowers two to five, small, yellow, and fragrant; there is a double variety.
The daffodil, which in England more than in this country is called daffodilly and daffadowndilly, derives its name from asplxodelus, through affodilly, etc.; the species generally known by this name is N. pseudo-narcissus, which has flat leaves and the scape bearing a single large flower having a large crown or cup; in the typical form the cup and petals are of a uniform yellow color, but in the variety bicolor the petals are white and the cup yellow, and there are several other varieties, including double and dwarf ones. One of the plants known by the garden name of "butter and eggs" is the double form of the incomparable daffodil (N. incomparoibi-Us), in which large lemon-colored petals are intermingled with smaller orange-colored ones. There are several other species, but they are rarely seen in ordinary cultivation. - The common poets' and two-flowered narcissus, the jonquil, and daffodil are very common in gardens, especially in country places, where they remain in the same place year after year, and form large clumps which show a small number of flowers for the quantity of foliage; being so hardy, they are left to themselves until the soil about them becomes filled with bulbs and roots and completely exhausted.
To have them flower satisfactorily the clumps should be taken up in autumn, divided, and set in fresh soil. The treatment of the tender sorts is indicated under Polyanthus. The method of forcing in pots is the same as for similar bulbs (see Hyacinth). The varieties of polyanthus are those most generally seen in window culture, but the commoner species are bright and welcome in winter, and might be more generally used for indoor blooming than they are. The gardeners near New York and other cities force great quantities of the poets' narcissus, daffodils, etc, and send them to market in early spring in full bloom.
Poets' Narcissus (N. poeticus).
Two-flowered Narcissus (N. biflorus).
Polyanthus Narcissus (N. Tazetta).
Daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus).