Early Daffodils

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by Fred Schueler – Fragile Inheritance Natural History

“Pentecostal Dawn” Daffodil, Bishop’s Mills, April 9, 2024.

Even before the poet William Wordsworth “wandered lonely as a cloud (into])a host of golden daffodils,” these brilliant flowers were a classic sign of spring. In Bishop’s Mills, the average date of their blooming since 2005 is April 17, so this year’s opening on April 9 was more than a week earlier than the average. The only earlier dates were April 4 and March 28 in the extraordinary springs of 2010 and 2012, before polar vortex complications of global warming began to bring cold dry spells into our springs. The latest date was April 28, 2018. This year’s plants were well emerged and in bud before being buried in the snowfalls of April 4.

These are the Great Daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus ssp. major, descendants of a single plant we call the Pentecostal Dawn, because we found it, presumably germinated from a rare fertile seed, behind the Pentecostal Church. There’s lots of hybridization in the genus Narcissus, and taxonomic confusion emblemised by finding the specific epithet is “pseudo” of the generic name. The generic name is used as the English name of the short-trumpeted white-petalled Narcissus poeticus, which bloom later than the Daffodils.

Wikipedia warns that “daffodils contain the alkaloid poison lycorine, mostly in the bulb, but also in the leaves. Because of this, daffodil bulbs and leaves should never be eaten.”

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