Narcissus

All about Narcissus

Updated: June 16, 2022

Narcissus is one of the most popular flowers in the world and the most popular flower in Germany. Narcissus is the name of a genus which includes flower bulbs like Daffodils, Jonquils, Paper whites and so forth. Narcissi (plural form of Narcissus) are easily grown from bulbs. It is a spring-flowering bulb. The word Narcissus is derived from the Greek word narke, meaning numbness or stupor.
Narcissus has conspicuous flowers with six petal-like tepals surmounted by a cup- or trumpet-shaped corona. Usually Narcissus flowers are white or yellow in color. But are also available in orange or pink in garden varieties with either uniform or contrasting colored tepals and corona. These are characterized by a narrow, tubular base (hypanthium), three petals and three petal-like sepals (the perianth), and a central cup-like appendage (the corona, cup, or crown) that may be of contrasting color.

Some Facts About Narcissus:

  • Narcissus is mostly native to the Mediterranean region, but a few species are found through central Asia to China.
  • Narcissus is a genus of perennial herbaceous bulbiferous geophytes, dying back after flowering to an underground storage bulb.
  • They regrow in the following year from brown-skinned ovoid bulbs with pronounced necks, and reach heights of 5-80 cm depending on the species. Dwarf species such as N. asturiensis have a maximum height of 5-8 cm, while Narcissus tazetta may grow as tall as 80 cm.
  • The plants are scapose, having a single central leafless hollow flower stem (scape).
  • Several green or blue-green, narrow, strap-shaped leaves arise from the bulb.
  • The plant stem usually bears a solitary flower, but occasionally a cluster of flowers (umbel).
  • The flowers, which are usually conspicuous and white or yellow, sometimes both or rarely green, consist of a perianth of three parts.
  • Closest to the stem (proximal) is a floral tube above the ovary, then an outer ring composed of six tepals (undifferentiated sepals and petals), and a central disc to conical shaped corona.
  • The flowers may hang down (pendent), or be erect. There are six pollen bearing stamens surrounding a central style.
  • The ovary is inferior (below the floral parts) consisting of three chambers (trilocular).
  • The fruit consists of a dry capsule that splits (dehisces) releasing numerous black seeds.
  • The bulb lies dormant after the leaves and flower stem die back and has contractile roots that pull it down further into the soil. The flower stem and leaves form in the bulb, to emerge the following season. Most species are dormant from summer to late winter, flowering in the spring, though a few species are autumn flowering.

Uses of Narcissus:

  • Narcissus have been used for centuries as traditional medicines for a variety of complaints, including cancer.  N. poeticus and N. tazetta are described in the Bible in the treatment for cancer.
  • In the Classical Greek world Hippocrates (ca. B.C. 460–370) recommended a pessary prepared from narcissus oil for uterine tumors.
  • The Roman Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23-79), advocated topical use.
  • The bulbs of N. poeticus contain the antineoplastic agent narciclasine.
  • This usage is also found in later Arabian, North African, Central American and Chinese medicine during the Middle Ages.
  • In China N. tazetta var. chinensis was grown as an ornamental plant. The bulbs were applied topically to tumors in traditional folk medicine as these bulbs contain pretazettine, an active antitumor compound.
  • The Roman physician Aulus Cornelius Celsus listed narcissus root in De Medicina among medical herbs, described as emollient, erodent, and "powerful to disperse whatever has collected in any part of the body".
  • N. tazetta bulbs were used in Turkey as a remedy for abscesses in the belief they were antiphlogistic and analgesic.
  • Other uses include the application to wounds, strains, painful joints and various local ailments as an ointment called 'Narcissimum'.
  • Powdered flowers have also been used medically, as an emetic, a decongestant and for the relief of dysentery, in the form of a syrup or infusion.
  • The French used the flowers as an antispasmodic, the Arabs the oil for baldness and also an aphrodisiac.
  • In the eighteenth century the Irish herbal of John K'Eogh recommended pounding the roots in honey for use on burns, bruises, dislocations and freckles, and for drawing out thorns and splinters.
  • N. tazetta bulbs have also been used for contraception, while the flowers have been recommended for hysteria and epilepsy.
  • A homeopathic medicine made from bulbs was prescribed for bronchitis and whooping cough.
  • In the traditional Japanese medicine of kampo, wounds were treated with narcissus root and wheat flour paste.
  • Narcissus also have been used as a stimulant and to induce trance like states and hallucinations.
  • Extracts of Narcissus has a number of potentially useful biological properties including antiviral, prophage induction, antibacterial, antifungal, antimalarial, insecticidal, cytotoxic, antitumor, antimitotic, antiplatelet, hypotensive, emetic, acetylcholine esterase inhibitory, antifertility, antinociceptive, chronotropic, pheromone, plant growth inhibitor, and allelopathic. Most of these properties are due to alkaloids, but some are also due to mannosa-binding lectins.
  • Galantamine is an acetylcholine esterase inhibitor which crosses the blood brain barrier and is active within the central nervous system. It has therapeutic use in man, as the drug galantamine for Alzheimer's disease.
  • The scent of narcissi has been an important ingredient of perfumes, a quality that comes from essential oils rather than alkaloids.
  • Narcissi are also an important horticultural crop, and source of cut flowers (floriculture).

Warning:

All Narcissus species contain the alkaloid poison lycorine, mostly in the bulb but also in the leaves. The toxic effects of ingesting Narcissus products for both humans and animals is recognized. Ingestion of N. pseudonarcissus or N. jonquilla is followed by salivation, acute abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, then neurological and cardiac events, including trembling, convulsions, and paralysis. Death may result if large quantities are consumed. The toxicity of Narcissus varies with species, N. poeticus being more toxic than N. pseudonarcissus.
The bulbs can also be toxic to other nearby plants, including roses, rice, and cabbages, inhibiting growth. For instance placing cut flowers in a vase alongside other flowers shortens the life of the latter. When narcissi bulbs have been mistaken for leeks or onions and cooked and eaten, there are many cases of poisoning or death have occurred.  In more severe cases involving ingestion of large quantities of bulbs, activated carbon, salts and laxatives may be required, and for severe symptoms intravenous atropine and emetics or stomach pumping may be indicated. However, ingestion of large quantities accidentally is unusual because of a strong unpleasant taste.
One of the most common dermatitis problems for flower pickers, packers, florists and gardeners, "daffodil itch", involves dryness, fissures, scaling, and erythema in the hands, often accompanied by subungual hyperkeratosis (thickening of the skin beneath the nails). If bulb extracts come into contact with wounds, both central nervous system and cardiac symptoms may result. The scent from N. bulbocodium can also cause toxic reactions such as headaches and vomiting. 


Related Articles

Orchids Flower (Meaning, Varieties & Facts)

Orchids Flower (Meaning, Varieties & Facts)

The Orchidaceae are a diverse and widespread family of flowering plants, with blooms that are often colorful and fragrant, commonly known as the orchid family.

Anniversary Flowers, Wedding Anniversary Flowers & Anniversary Flower Bouquets

Anniversary Flowers, Wedding Anniversary Flowers & Anniversary Flower Bouquets

Anniversary Flowers conveys various types of messages and emotions relying upon the quantity of years you have remained together in your marriage.

Birth Month Flowers

Birth Month Flowers

Find birth flowers for each month of the year.

Christmas Flowers, Christmas Flower Arrangements & Christmas Plants

Christmas Flowers, Christmas Flower Arrangements & Christmas Plants

Christmas flowers are the popular flowers used during the festive season of Christmas.

Tulips Flower (Meaning, Varieties & Facts)

Tulips Flower (Meaning, Varieties & Facts)

Tulips (Tulipa) form a genus of spring-blooming perennial herbaceous bulbiferous geophytes.

Iris Flower (Meaning, Varieties & Facts)

Iris Flower (Meaning, Varieties & Facts)

Iris is a popular garden flower that takes its name from the Greek word for a rainbow.

Thanksgiving Flowers

Thanksgiving Flowers

Thanksgiving Day began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.

Lilies Flower (Meaning, Varieties & Facts)

Lilies Flower (Meaning, Varieties & Facts)

Lily is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants growing from bulbs, all with large prominent flowers

Suppliers Across World


Browse suppliers across the globe including Poland, Serbia, Honduras, Greenland, Rwanda, Montenegro, Benin, Madagascar, Niue, Bhutan, Guyana, Cuba, Nicaragua, Malaysia, Jordan, Wallis and Futuna, Northern Ireland, Tunisia, Haiti, Paraguay, Belarus, Israel, Georgia, Lebanon, Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia, Egypt, Qatar, Saint Helena, Marshall Islands, Guinea, Tuvalu, Sao Tome and Principe, Finland, Guernsey, Kiribati, Guinea-Bissau, Hong Kong, Bahamas, Tajikistan, Cape Verde, South Korea, United States, North Macedonia, Jersey, Canada, Syria, Uruguay, Northern Mariana Islands, Mauritius and other localities of World as well..