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Wild Daffodils

Written by John James, posted on Thursday, March 7, 2019

As reported in a previous blog post, British native wild flowers in Christ Church Meadows - Spring, over the last few years we have been planting 1,000's of native wild flower bulbs in the Meadow in an attempt to reintroduce lost species.

At the moment the two varieties of wild daffodil that we have been planting are flowering well, having enjoyed the recent mild, sunny weather. The two varieties are the pure yellow Narcissus obvallaris or Tenby Daffodil, which, as its common name suggests, is native to South Wales and Narcissus lobularis (Lent Lily) which is native to the British Isles and southern Europe The latter has lightly scented flowers with a yellow trumpet (corona) and cream coloured petals (perianth) making it easy to distinguish from N. obvallaris.

Both species are shorter than the commonly cultivated garden daffodils at around 20-40cm and normally flower in February and March. The two species enjoy the same conditions – damp, partly shaded grassland and associate well with other wild flowers such as primroses, cowslips and snakeshead fritillaries.

Although the 17th century herbalist Thomas Culpepper recommended daffodils as a purgative and emetic, all daffodils contain poisonous narcotic lycorine compounds and should not be eaten.

As with all daffodils, the cultivation of these two is very simple – plant approximately one and a half times their own depth and leave them to it. To ensure the best displays, leave the foliage uncut as long as possible to allow the bulbs to build up good food stores, and, if only growing a few, remove the seed heads before they develop to stop the plant wasting energy on seed production.