Narcissus is a genus of mainly hardy, mostly spring-flowering, bulbs in the Amaryllis family, subfamily Amaryllidoideae, native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia. There are also several Narcissus species that bloom in the autumn. Though Hortus Third cites 26 wild species, Daffodils for North American Gardens cites between 50 and 100 including species variants and wild hybrids. Through taxonomic and genetic research, it is speculated that over time this number will probably continue to be refined.
Daffodil is a common English name, sometimes used now for all varieties, and is the chief common name of horticultural prevalence used by the American Daffodil Society. The range of forms in cultivation has been heavily modified and extended, with new variations available from specialists almost every year.
There are two derivations of the name. One is that of the youth of Greek mythology called Narcissus, who, in at least one of many variations of the tale, became so obsessed with his own reflection as he kneeled and gazed into a pool of water that he fell into the water and drowned. In some variations, he died of starvation and thirst from just sitting by the edge of the pool until he gave out, gazing at his reflection until he died. In both versions, the Narcissus plant first sprang from where he died.
The other derivation is that the plant is named after its narcotic properties (?a???? narkao, “I grow numb” in Greek). There are several plurals in common use: “Narcissuses”, “Narcissi”, and “Narcissus”. This last is common in American English but is very rare in British usage. The American Webster’s Third New International Dictionary gives plurals in the order “Narcissus”, “Narcissuses”, and “Narcissi”, but the British Compact Oxford English Dictionary[clarification needed] lists just “Narcissi” and “Narcissuses”.
The name Daffodil is derived from an earlier “Affodell”, a variant of Asphodel. The reason for the introduction of the initial “d” is not known, although a probable source is an etymological merging from the Dutch article “de,” as in “De affodil.” From at least the 16th century, “Daffadown Dilly”, “daffadown dilly”, and “daffydowndilly” have appeared as playful synonyms of the name.
The name jonquil is sometimes used in North America, particularly in the South,[clarification needed], but strictly speaking that name belongs to only the rush-leaved Narcissus jonquilla and cultivars derived from it.
Flowers of the tazetta-group species Narcissus papyraceus are commonly called paperwhites.
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