Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Narcissus Part 1

It is a good season for looking at Daffodils (Narcissus agg.) as they all, with the exception of the late flowering Pheasant's-eye (Narcissus poeticus) seem to be flowering in synchrony, allowing good opportunity to compare and contrast. I'm going to put my hands up and say Narcissus nomenclature (whichever system you pick - taxa versus cultivar) requires more than its fair share of faith in the robustness of the available classification and information, particularly with regard to plants naturalised in Britain. The keys encourage plants to be aligned with taxa that in many cases only have passing similarity to their wild relatives (at best robust selections or cultivars and at worst multi-parent hybrids), or hybrids that may or may not relate to the putative parents and that may in all likelihood share genes with a fair few other taxa. What else can one expect from a group of species that are so inter fertile and that have been subject to intensive selection and hybridisation for at least 100 years. That said its all good fun, it does add to your appreciation of the diversity out there, and names linking plants of similar appearance are better than no names at all. The key caveat in all identifications is 'looks like' or 'close to'.

My current favourite bulb hunting ground - Oulton churchyard - has thrown up the goods this year, including some forms I have not seen in previous seasons. This includes some nice stands of some of the older selections of the Pheasant's-eye hybrids, note the short corona and the long perianth tube. I much prefer these delicate older cultivars, with more recent breeding moving towards more robust flowers through back-crosses away N. poeticus and towards the other parent. Perhaps more on those later, but for the time being here are a few from today.

White-and-Orange Daffodil (Narcissus x boutigyanus cf 'White Lady') - white perianth whorl and yellow corona (Narcissus moschatus x poeticus)

White-and-Orange Daffodil (Narcissus x boutigyanus cf 'White Lady') 

 Nonesuch Daffodil (Narcissus x incomparabilis) - pale yellow (very pale in this case) perianth whorl and yellow corona (Narcissus pseudonarcissus x poeticus)

Nonesuch Daffodil (Narcissus x incomparabilis)

Bernard's Daffodil (Narcissus x bernardii, could be an extreme Nonesuch but the closest I have seen to this hybrid) - +/- concolorous perianth whorl and corona (Narcissus hispanicus x poeticus)

 Bernard's Daffodil (Narcissus x bernardii)

To end with, one of the more blousy modern hybrids, but an extremely common one. This is Narcissus x boutigyanus 'Ice Follies'. Note the more intermediate perianth tube, the larger corona and broader perianth segements. Ice Follies is also notable because the corona gradually changes from lemony yellow (first photo) to cream (second photo) as the flower ages.

Narcissus x boutigyanus 'Ice Follies'

Narcissus x boutigyanus 'Ice Follies'

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