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Daffodil (wild)

Narcissus pseudonarcissus ssp pseudonarcissus

One Daffodil flower with pale petals and a bright yellow tube

Our native Daffodil is smaller than many garden varieties but is still a striking sight in early spring.

The Daffodil is also known as the ‘Lent lily’ or ‘Easter lily’ since it often blooms and fades within the Lenten period. The wild Daffodil is smaller than horticultural varieties, with paler petals and a deep yellow trumpet-like tube. The leaves are grey-green, thin, long and flattened. It grows in groups so can be quite an impressive sight.

Two Daffodils in the evening sunshine

Where to spot it

The native Daffodil is found in damp woods, fields, grassland and orchards.

It is a rare plant but can be abundant in some areas. The ‘golden triangle’ around the Gloucestershire villages of Newent and Dymock is famous for its wild woodland Daffodils.

A 10-mile footpath known as ‘The Daffodil Way’ runs through woods, orchards and meadows, in which the wild Daffodil is rarely out of sight. These colonies have built up over hundreds of years. It currently survives in patchy populations, often scattered across the western side of Britain.

Three Daffodils in a large Daffodil meadow on the edge of a woodland

Best time to spot it

Wild Daffodils are best spotted in the spring months of March and April.

How’s it doing?

Once one of the most common wild flowers to be found in the English and Welsh countryside, the wild Daffodil declined mysteriously in the mid-nineteenth century. Picking by passers-by doesn’t seem to have been the cause – Daffodils are relatively resistant to this practice. A more likely culprit was the simultaneous fall in cash-crops grown by locals hoping to capitalising on the flower’s popularity, combined with agricultural intensification and mismanagement of its habitat.

There is a risk that wild Daffodils will hybridise with the cultivated varieties.

Things you might not know

  • ‘Daffodil’ in Welsh is ‘Cenhinen Pedr’ – which literally translates as Pedr’s (or Peter’s) leek. The true Welsh Daffodil is the Tenby Daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus ssp. obvallaris, a sub-species of the wild variety. Although it is likely that this was originally a cultivated flower, it now grows wild across south-west Wales.
  • Daffodil bulbs are used by pharmacists as a source of a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • As well as a national symbol of Wales, the wild Daffodil is also the county flower of Gloucestershire.
  • In the Language of Flowers it represents hope, folly and unrequited love.

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