The narcissus flower – which is a member of the amaryllis family – has become very popular around the world, but has developed a special following in Germany, where in 1981 it became the subject for a campaign to protect wildflowers. These flowers are spring blooming bulbs that are generally white or yellow in hue, and sport either a disc or trumpet shaped corona. There are dozens of varieties of narcissi which include the unadulterated – mainly wild-growing – species, all the way to hybrids. Some of the most popular include daffodils, paperwhites and jonquils – all of which have their own special characteristics.
There are several stories as to where the narcissus flower got its name. In mythology it is said that Narcissus became so entranced by his reflection in a lake that he fell in and drowned. When the other gods mourned him, they left behind handfuls of narcissus flowers. A variation of this story tells of him spending so much time preening at his reflection that he became literally planted to his sport and turned into this flower. The Greek word narke (which translates to stupor or numbness) is also thought to be at the root of the narcissus flower’s name. This is due to the blossom’s intoxicating scent, combined with the poisonous nature of the bulbs and leaves. Despite the fact that, when consumed, the bulbs of the narcissus can be dangerous, ancient Egyptians covered the nose, mouth and eyes of Pharaohs as part of a common death ritual. Given the heady fragrance of the narcissus flower, it has become one of the most frequently used floral scents. Narcissus oil – which is mostly culled from the poet’s daffodil in France and Holland – is said to smell like a distinctive combination of both jasmine and hyacinth.
The narcissus flower is considered one of the many flowers of love. It can also represent appreciation for another person’s beauty when given as a gift. Conversely, these flowers can be a sign of vanity, and can be sent as a warning to keep that vanity in check. In Chinese symbolism, the narcissus can represent the culmination of talent and hard work. In that light, these flowers might make an excellent gift to someone who is changing careers or pursuing their dreams.