Q: We were having a discussion at the office about daffodils and jonquils, and we would like to know the difference between them. Would you please enlighten me?
A: Bringing light to the dark corners of garden knowledge is my specialty! Daffodils belong to the genus Narcissus, most of whose members have the familiar six flat flower petals surrounding a central cup. Daffodil is the common name for all members of the narcissus family.
You can use either “daffodil” or “narcissus” correctly when referring to any of this familiar family of bulbs.
The American Daffodil Society divides members of the Narcissus family into thirteen divisions, based on the shape of the flower. There are Cyclamineus daffodils, Double daffodils, Miniature daffodils, etc. Narcissus is sometimes used as the common name for a few members, i.e. “Paperwhite Narcissus”.
Older Southern gardeners would commonly refer to any early, yellow, fragrant narcissus as a jonquil. However, “jonquil” is properly used only as the common name for the Jonquilla group of daffodils. Daffodil is the proper common name for all thirteen groups of these bulbs.
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