Monday, 28 December 2015

Daffodils in bloom - and how to identify them

Many of you have been in touch recently to report seeing daffodils in bloom already, and this article appeared in The Telegraph the other week - scroll down to see a quote by BSBI Head of Science Kevin Walker

We did have one record of Narcissus sp. in flower during last year's New Year Plant Hunt but we are likely to get more this year, so I was thinking how nice it would be to go a little further in our daffodil identifications this year. 

And lo and behold, in came an email from Prof Mick Crawley, which should help us to do exactly that! 

Mick - who only last month wowed his audience at the BSBI Exhibition Meeting with a fascinating talk on Alien Plants and is co-author (with Clive Stace) of the recent 'Aliens' title in the New Naturalist series - is also an expert on the identification of garden plants such as snowdrops and daffodils. He is also the author of the Daffodil Key

Over to Mick:

"It would be great if you could record the daffodils that you find in flower on this year’s New Year Plant Hunt. There are only likely to be four of them, and they are very easy to tell apart.

 The all-yellow, classic early daffodil (top and above) is Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation’ (pronounced Rhine-felt). 

This is the one that is in flower every year on New Year’s Day, and every year causes people with short botanical memories to comment on how early the Daffs are this year. 

It is a Division 1 (long trumpet) with yellow petals (the first of the two letters) and yellow trumpet (the second of the two letters). It is described as D1YY.

The white and yellow plant (above) is Narcissus ‘Spring Dawn’. 

Because the trumpet is shorter than the petals, this is classified as Division 2 (rather than its female parent 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation’, above, which is D1), so ‘Spring Dawn’ is D2WY.

Then there are two Division 8 cultivars (the Tazettas).


The yellow and orange (YO) one is Narcissus 'Grand Soleil d'Or' (above and above left). Narcissus 'Grand Soleil d'Or' is D8YO.

The all-white one (WW) is Narcissus ‘Paperwhite’ (on right and below). That's D8WW.

That is all there is to it. Please take photos of any other cultivars you find, and send them to me at m.crawley@imperial.ac.uk. I’m happy to try and name them for you".

Mick Crawley, Silwood Park, Ascot