Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Daffodil Season

It seems downright insane that I have yet to blog about daffodils - at least not in any substantial manner. I mean, I'd say pretty much anyone with the most remedial plant knowledge would know a daffodil -- and most of those people would probably say they liked them, too, right? I mean, who doesn't like a daffodil?

The above is outside of Lewisohn Hall - the building that houses my department at Columbia. I have begun many first-day-of-class introductions outside that doorway and the red oak (Quercus rubra) you see in the courtyard is always featured as one of the first trees students will learn. The planting area looks pretty nifty right now, with hundreds of cyclamineus-type daffodils in bloom.

So. "Cyclamineus-type" daffodils -- what's that? Daffodils (or Narcissus) are classified into twelve (actually now, according to the American Daffodil Society, there are thirteen) divisions. Cycalmineus is one of the divisions and refers to the windswept or Cyclamen-like flowers.

Other divisions are named for the size of the flower's cup (the tubular part of the flower, technically called a corona) relative to the size of the floral leaves (or perianth). Both the flowers above and below have cups that are more than 1/3 the lengh of a petal, but don't exceed the petal's length, which means they are large cup division daffodils.

(By the way, even people who don't like bright yellow in the garden, can still have daffodils like the one above.)

If the cup was larger than the floral leaves (or if we want to be non-technical, the petals) they would be trumpet-type daffodils.

Other divisions include small cup, double-flowering, triandrus (or 'weeping'), jonquilas - which are small, fragrant and have one to three flowers per stem, tazettas (paperwhites), bulbocodiums - which have a very, very large cup and insignificant perianth, split-cupped (where as the name suggests, the corona is split into a 'second row' of petals), and division 12, which is a catch-all for types that don't fit in other categories. The ADS added the 13th division for wild, unhybridized types.

Lastly, I saved division 9 for last, since it's a favorite. They are the poeticus type daffodils, characterized by the extremely white perianth and small crinkled orange cup. Usually the cup is yellow with red trim. (I'll admit, this cup looks big for a poeticus and it could be a small cup type, but you get the idea. The true poeticus types are dashing.)

PS: I think we all know the story of Narcissus and his, well, narcissism. What I don't know is the story behind the common name daffodil - where that word came from. If anyone knows, please comment!


Carlo A. Balistrieri said...

As I understand it, the origins of "daffodil" are not all that clear. The leading theory appears to be the adoption of the then name for Asphodelus with its "d'" article when brought to England. Asphodelus stayed with its subjects, and d'asphodelus or "daffodil" was applied to Narcissus.

Jennifer G. Horn said...

Wow -- Thanks for the fast comment! That's fantastic info!

Anonymous said...

When looking for an answer to your question I noticed that the Chinese Year of the Tiger has a usps stamp this year with daffodils featured. I cannot top Carlo's comment, which I found very interesting.

Alice Joyce said...

Cheerful images on a day when hail and rain have returned to the Bay Area. I'm heartened by the sight of Clematis montana Rubens blooming like mad already in my garden, but really, there's nothing like a display of daffodils. Sorry to admit that I'm feeling too fatigued by hours at the computer to ponder botanical orders or nomenclature - just happy to get lost in the notion of stepping outside your building at Columbia to see ... this!
Warm wishes,

southern horizons3 said...

I found another twist to the common name derivation for ‘Daffodil’. It seems that an old name for daffodil was 'Affodyle'. It is thought that this term originated from the Old English 'Affo dyle' meaning "that which cometh early." The “D” apparently came from the French fleur d’affodille.

As mentioned above some say that term Daffodil is derived from the likeness of the plant to the Asphodel. Asphodelus & Narcissus are both in the Asparagales order; however the former is in the Xanthorrhoeaceae family while the latter is in the Amaryllidaceae.

Either way William Wordsworth’s poem The Daffodils (1815 version) is always a gem -
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”

Invertir en oro said...

Thanks for interesting post. I'm from the subtropics and not overly familiar with these two species in the Rosaceae family

Cialis Online said...

This is the favorite seaosn of everyone across the entire world. There is not anything prettier than when you have flowers everywhere. Simply I love it.

cheap viagra said...

wow thank you so much for sharing these beautiful images above,I love this kind of plants, and I'm hopping to have some of them in my backyard...