What Is a Narcissus?

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  • Written By: A. Gamm
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 10 August 2019
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Narcissus is actually a genus of flower that typically comprises of flowers with a trumpet or corona with a few petals surrounding. The petals are usually white or yellow, but some may also have orange or pink tones, and the trumpet may have the same or contrasting color. These flowers tend to be known for their strong, sweet scent. They are native to Western Europe and are more commonly found around the Mediterranean, but as of 2011 are imported and grown worldwide. Popular narcissi flowers include paperwhites, jonquils and daffodils.

Although not all narcissi have a corona or trumpet, the majority of them do. The typical narcissus has a center corona with about three petals surrounding it as well as a few perianth. Petals and corona are usually yellow or white in color; however, some have been seen in pinkish or orange tones. In some cases the corona may be a contrasting color. The stem is normally long, thin and somewhat sturdy.

Most narcissi are believed to be native to the Mediterranean area of Europe, but some may be found naturally growing in other regions. As of 2011, the United Kingdom, Isle of Sicily, Holland and Channel Isles are the biggest exporters of the narcissus flower. Also as of 2011, this flower is popularly grown in the Americas by novice and expert gardeners alike.


Normally, growing narcissus is a fairly simple task as it is a low maintenance flower. It is capable of growing in almost all types of soil, and the main requirement of the flower tends to be adequate irrigation. The amount of space needed between each bulb ranges from three to seven inches, depending on the bulb size. In most cases, random planting is more aesthetically pleasing than a set formation for this genus of flower. It is generally recommended that planting narcissus bulbs be reserved for the autumn months so the roots have time to establish before the flower blooms in spring.

The word narcissus is Greek and means "numbness." It is believed that this particular name was chosen for the genus of flowers due to the toxic properties of the bulb and the distinctive fragrances. Several gardeners note the close relation between the name of genus and the Greek mythological tale of narcissus. Although the narcissi flowers are popular in Europe and the Americas, many people do not realize there are several species that fall under this particular genus, and many people mistake daffodils to be the genus of this flower type.


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