What Is the Difference between a Daffodil and Narcissus?

Paul Cartmell

There is no difference between a daffodil and narcissus; both names can be used to describe a spring flowering bulb in the Narcissus genus of plants. There are 12 divisions of plants classified under the scientific name Narcissus, with only the jonquil members of the genus not covered by the names daffodil and narcissus. The narcissus is easily grown in most regions of the world, and is used as the national emblem of the British principality of Wales.

The narcissus is the national emblem of Wales.
The narcissus is the national emblem of Wales.

Narcissus is the scientific name given to the genus of plants often more commonly known as daffodils. They are grown from bulbs and are in full bloom throughout the spring months. The daffodil is one of the easiest flowers to grow and will prosper in a variety of conditions, including beneath trees and in rocky garden areas. As a spring flowering bulb, the daffodil requires moisture; dry areas of soil do not allow the plant to grow to its full potential.

Plants in this genus can bloom with petals of a variety of colors, including yellow, white, and multi-colored varieties. The number of varieties is disputed by cultivators, with estimations ranging between 40 and 200, not including hybrid versions. Of the 12 classifications of the daffodil, two are classed as Narcissus jonquilla varieties, which are determined by the solid yellow coloring of the petals and hollow leaves on the plant. Each of the ten varieties not classed as jonquils have flat leaves and are sorted into different varieties by the length of the flower tube.

Depending on the variety of narcissus, the flowers can bloom for different lengths of time from six weeks to six months. The bulbs of daffodil and narcissus varieties that are properly cared for can survive and bloom for a number of years, including some that can prosper for longer than an average human lifetime. Traditionally, the plants begin to bloom in the early spring, depending on the harshness and length of the preceding winter.

Daffodil and narcissus species are found throughout the world following their spread by the Roman people through their empire. Romans introduced the flowers to Britain during the Roman occupation, with the plant prospering in the wild in the country of Wales. During the 19th century, the daffodil and narcissus became the national emblem because the plant blooms in large numbers around 1 March, the national day of Wales.

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Discussion Comments


@candyquilt-- I'm not sure if the name is interchangeable in all cases. For example, the flower "angel's tears" also belongs to the Narcissus genus. It's a species of Narcissus called Narcissus triandrus. Now we can't call angel's tears "daffodil" because it will become confusing.

It's probably best to refer to them with their common name or their exact Latin name to avoid confusion. People may confuse the different names of plants, but it's difficult to confuse the Latin species names.


@donasmrs-- Well no because all of the plants in the genus Narcissus are daffodils. Daffodil is just another name for these plants. So they can be used interchangeably.

Even though there are many varieties of daffodils, they still look alike and all are still referred to as "daffodil." So one can use either name. Although if you want to make sure that people understand which plant you're referring to, you're probably better of using "daffodil."


So daffodils belong to the family Narcissus. So is it really correct to call a daffodil Narcissus? One might be talking about a different flower in the same family right?

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