April 14, 2011

Wild Narcissus triandrus or Angel's Tears

Narcissus triandrus ssp. triandrus 'alba' , a challenging wild form of Narcissus, as shown in a book by Alex Gray, MINIATURE DAFFODILS. I've tried, and had some success with this beautiful species. It's worth seeking out.

 I went through a miniature narcissus phase a few years back, after reading the book MINIATURE DAFFODILS (1955) by Alec Grey and the book THE NARCISSUS by E.A. Bowles ( 1934). There are many species and named forms of miniature narcissus, but like many plant, or specifically bulb enthusiasts, or, even to be more precise- many narcissus collectors- the most coveted bulbs are those which are most difficult to grow. A challenge, always amps up the desire. And so it is with the true species form of a daffodil we rarely see in northern gardens, Narcissus triandrus ssp. triandrus.

As a recap, daffodils are organized into 13 groups that are called divisions. When you buy daffodils or narcissus ( the same thing) from catalogs that follow such rules, you will see them organised as such, which is the proper thing to do. A daffodil society show, will also show their flowers separated into these Divisions. They are frequently listed, as  DIV. I, DIV.III, etc. Narcissus triandrus are DIV. V, TRIANDRUS, and these include some common named hybrids like "Thalia".  a large, orchid shaped white daffodil. But, this pot below, would be most properly placed in DIV 10 SPECIES and their varients, which simply ( or not so simply!) means that this is one of the wild forms of the genus Narcissus, and in this case, Narcissus triandrus, the pure species.

Best of all, which is difficult for me to remain humble about, is that for whatever reason, I've had luck growing this species, and these seed raised forms below are proof that success can be had, even with little care. Most of these collector books list this pure species as "difficult", and "growable- for a few years, then it will decline". Thankfully, mine have set seed, which I have sown back into the same pot. Now these are blooming, and I am quite pleased.

Narcissus triandrus blooming in a small pot, wintered over in a cold glass house.

Much smaller than the hybrid 'triandrus' types sold in Dutch catalogs, these small species are not only difficult to grow, they are hard to find in any catalog. I get mine from NARGS seed exchange lists, or from a handful of on-line sources such as Nancy Wilson's site for miniature narcissus, or from Paul Christian's site. Why the double pot? Not necessary, but it keeps the bulbs more protected from frost, since I keep this pot near the icy glass in the winter, and since this insists of fast drainage, the outer ring is gravel, and the inner pot a fast-draining mix. Any more soil, and it will hold more water, which raises the risk of bulb rot. Native to the high mountains of Spain, Portugal and south western France, this species is still worth growing if you can provide perfect drainage and a hot, dry summer.

Other miniature narcissus are slightly less fussy, and can be grown outdoors, as seen here in my raised alpine bed. "Wee Be" on the left, looks like a large narcissus, but this plant is only 4 inches tall, and the flowers are the same size as a nickle. N. cyclamineus in the back.


  1. A great read! Keep up the good work!

  2. Nice photo of Wee Bee & Chiondoxia, I will put that on my list for bulb season. FYI, excellent blog, best one out there IMO.


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