Narcissus is a genus in the Amaryllidaceae family native to Europe, North Africa and Asia. As a popular garden plant it has been hybridized heavily, and there are new ones being introduced every year. Among all of the attention focused on the hybrids, species Narcissus tend to be overlooked. That's a shame, since many of the species have a delicate charm of their own.
Unfortunately, the naming of species Narcissus is a mess. Bulb expert Brian Mathew reports that they can be difficult to classify, with various authors identifying anywhere from 26 species to more than 60. Because Narcissus have been in cultivation for so long, some plants believed to be species are known only in gardens, with no known wild populations to verify them. All of this confusion is reflected in commerce, where bulbs may be sold under a variety of different names. We've done our best to classify the following photos, but this page is definitely a work in progress. Please let us know if you find an error. The species S-Z will be found below.
Note: The letter and number codes after each species name refer to Brian Mathew's taxonomy of Narcissus species, which you can read here.
Narcissus scaberulus. 1d(ii) - This species is endemic to a small area in northern central Portugal. An estimated 10,000 individuals occupy an area just over an estimated 400 square miles. Flowers are yellow, less than three quarters of an inch in diameter. Perianth segments are slightly reflexed, truncate to acute at the tip, and incurved at the margins. The corona is often more than half the width of the entire flower, cup shaped, often with a crenate margin. N. scaberulus grows up to ten inches tall, though usually shorter, with two to three flowers per umbel. It has prostrate or coiled leaves and one to three small flowers per umbel. Photos by Alessandro Marinello.
Narcissus serotinus. 2a(iii). N. serotinus is a white flowered Autumn flowering species native to much of Mediterranean coast, including islands, and coastal Morocco. It has also been reported as extending inland to southeastern Portugal and southwestern Spain. Reaching a height of five inches, the flowers are characterized by bright white, cuspidate, sometimes twisted or slightly reflexed tepals and a minuscule dark orange cup less than a tenth of an inch wide. The leaves appear after flowering. N. serotinus is sweetly scented and blooms in the vicinity of other Autumnal geophytes such as Colchicum filifolium, Prospero autumnale, and N. cavanillesii. Mathew noted that some botanists have identified varieties in this species, but he said they are doubtful. Usually carries one flower but sometimes two, or even three. Photos taken in habitat by Angelo Porcelli in Apulia - Italy.
Narcissus tazetta 2a(i)A - colored tazetta-like flowers. Up to 15 fragrant flowers in an umbel. Petals are white, and the corona orange or yellow. This species has naturalized from Europe to Asia. This is one of the better known flowers from the Mediterranean. Much loved for its sweet scent, it has been cultivated for centuries and spread around the world. A countless number of hybrids exist. This is one of the wild fertile forms found in Italy. Photo #1 in habitat by Angelo Porcelli. The next photo, by Jane McGary, shows wild plants of N. tazetta on the island of Marathonisi (ancient Krinai) off Gytheion in the Peloponnese, flowering at the end of October. Plants on Crete typically flower in early spring, however. Photos #3-4 were taken by Nhu Nguyen at the UC Botanical Garden. The plant material pictured came from Israel. Photo #5 shows wild collected fertile forms in Italy by Angelo Porcelli. All them have smaller florets than orientalis and italicus and they also have different scents. Photo #6 was taken by Mary Sue Ittner and identified as this species.
Narcissus triandrus. 1c - "angel's tears" daffodils. These drooping flowers have a rounded corona and swept-back petals, giving an overall look that's somewhat reminiscent of a miniature shuttlecock. They bloom in spring. Louise Beebe Wilder called them "a priceless gift from the Spanish Peninsula to the gardening world." This is either a species with several variants, or a group of several closely related species. Mathew classifies it as a single variable species. Usually represented in cultivation by the creamy white form shown in the photo. It is an adaptable plant (the one shown is growing on a peaty rock garden bed that is watered frequently in summer) and often self-sows in gardens. Photo by Jane McGary.
Narcissus triandrus var. cernuus. (syn. N. triandrus albus) Pale yellow or cream. Leaves about 2 mm wide. Spain and Portugal.
Narcissus triandrus var. concolor (syn. N. triandrus ssp. pallidulus , N. pallidulus, N. lusitanicus). Yellow flowers. Spain and Portugal.
Narcissus triandrus var. loiseleurii (syn. N. triandrus ssp. capax) Like var. triandrus, but with white flowers. France.
Narcissus triandrus var. triandrus. Pale yellow or white, leaves are 4–5 mm wide. Spain.
Narcissus viridiflorus. 1d(iii). The green Narcissus. Strongly scented green flowers in fall, one to five in an umbel. Louise Beebe Wilder called it "a strange spidery, almost evil-looking flower." It is from Spain, Morocco, and Gibraltar where it grows in rocky places. It needs a warm rest in order to flower. Photos by John Lonsdale and Alessandro Marinello.
Narcissus index - Overview of the Narcissus species - Narcissus Species A-B - Narcissus Species C - Narcissus Species D-J - Narcissus Species K-O - Narcissus Species P - Narcissus Species Q-R - Narcissus hybrids - Division 1 - Division 2 - Division 3 - Division 4 - Division 5 - Division 6 - Division 7 - Division 8 - Division 9 - Division 10 - Division 11 - Division 12 - Miniatures