Flowers, perhaps more than any other part of the natural world, are fascinating because of the many layers of meaning people have shrouded them in throughout history.
There is a whole sub-category of etiquette surrounding which flowers are appropriate to give at what times, and to whom. The unending rules surrounding something so simple as a flower can be dizzying.
Another aspect of flower lore concerns the designated flowers for each month of the year. The official flower for March is the daffodil and it’s smaller European-native sibling, the jonquil.
Daffodils feature a bell-shaped center surrounded by six large petals. Native to the Mediterranean region, as well as parts of Asia, daffodils are among the earliest flowers to bloom each year, and often seen as harbingers of spring.
Daffodils take their name from the Greek word asphodel, meaning “kings spear.” This is somewhat confused by the fact that there is already a genus of plants that goes by the name asphodel. Jonquils, on the other hand, borrow their name from the Latin word for rush, a type of grass. Both plants are species of narcissus, named for the unfortunate youth of Greek legend who drowned while admiring his own reflection.
Because they are one of the first flowers to return at the start of spring, daffodils are said to represent rebirth and new beginnings. Other popular meanings include faithfulness and honesty, because they never fail to return, year after year, even after the harshest of winters.
Traditonally, herbalists used daffodils as a cleansing agent, to remove impurities from the body. They can be used to induce vomiting, as well as to clean wounds, soothe burns, and ease joint or muscle pain. Modern medicine has also found the plant useful. Galantamine, a drug used to combat Alzheimer’s disease, is produced by daffodils.