Daffodils or Jonquils

If there’s a flower that can cause a little confusion, it’s the yellow daffodil. I learned to refer to these flowers with long noses as daffodils from my Illinois neighbor. Mrs. Futrell had a small white farmhouse with a white picket fence lined with the small, early yellow flowers growing under old-fashioned lilac bushes.

After I moved to Missouri, I noticed people here where calling what I called daffodils as jonquils.

Although my “daffodils” have started to fade, I still have what I call “jonquils” in my garden. They’re distinguished from daffodils by having several flowers on a stem, tube-like leaves, as opposed to flat leaves, and are wonderfully fragrant. In general, the flowers tend to be smaller, too, and no noses.

When my mother moved to northern Illinois, my visits to Champaign-Urbana included weekends of landscaping her house. One morning, her neighbor Brenda brought in a bag of loose bulbs and asked if we wanted “narcissus” bulbs. We said yes, then started to wonder what were these bulbs. When they finally bloomed, my mother said they looked like daffodils to her.

My mother was understandably confused. I had given her a pot of paper white narcissus one Christmas – popular white bulbs to force in an indoor pot and very fragrant – but the ones her neighbor had given her looked nothing like those.

I decided to settle this once and for all. The correct term – drum roll please – is “narcissus,” the genus of bulbs that includes daffodils, jonquils, and paper white narcissus, among others. Although scientifically these are at least 25 different species, one of the gardening books said the “common” term for the wide range of narcissus flowers is – daffodil.

By the way, Narcissus don’t really have “noses,” that’s just what I call the long “cup” or trumpet at the center surrounded by six petals that looks like a nose.

The white flower is a daffodil; the yellow ones with two flowers per stem are jonquils but you can call all of them daffodils if you want to do so, no skin off my nose as they like to say. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Charlotte Ekker Wiggins is a gardener, beekeeper and sometimes cook, for more visit gardeningcharlotte.com. Published by Kaleidoscope Weekly with permission. Copyright 2018, all rights reserved. This column may not be copied, published, reprinted, rewritten or redistributed. Contact Charlotte at gardeningcharlotte@gmail.com.

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