Cheerful yellow daffodils signal the end of winter cold and the return of warmer days. If you live in a moderate climate, daffodils are among the first flowers to bust into bloom every spring, making them a symbol of rebirth. If you were born in March, daffodils are also your birthday flower.
In the language of flowers, daffodils symbolize friendship, chivalry, respect, modesty and faithfulness. Apparently, the daffodil was originally called “affodell,” a variant of asphodel. No one really knows why the letter “d” was added to the front of the name, but from at least the 1500s the flowers have been playfully known in literature as “Daffadown Dilly” or “daffadowndilly.”
Daffodil is the common name for all members of the genus narcissus, and many people call daffodils narcissus. In North America, daffodils are also known as jonquils, the Spanish name for the flower. Daffodils range in size from 5-inch blooms on 2-foot stems to half-inch flowers on 2-inch stems and have a sweet fragrance.
Daffodils in History
Daffodils are native to the Mediterranean region, including the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa and the Middle East. The earliest record that included mention of daffodils dates back to around 200 BC.
Although daffodils were a favorite of the ancient Greeks and Romans, by around 1600 they had fallen out of favor and essentially been forgotten. But that changed in 1629 when a group of English gardeners championed the daffodil and it regained its popularity among plant and flower lovers.
Colors and Symbolism
The most common color of daffodil is yellow, but you can also find flower varieties accented with white, orange, pink or lime green. During Victorian times when it was taboo for someone to put their romantic feelings into actual words, daffodils symbolized happiness and friendship.
Another hidden meaning of daffodils was noted to be “you are an angel.”
Fun Facts about Daffodils
- Daffodils were brought to Britain by the Romans who thought they had healing powers.
- Medieval Arabs used the juice of the wild daffodil as a cure for baldness.
- Roman soldiers carried poisonous daffodils to help them die more quickly if they were mortally wounded in battle.
- A Greek scholar named Theophrastus first wrote about daffodils around 300 BC in his Enquiry into Plants, which became an important influence on medieval science.
- The daffodil is the emblem of Wales and is worn on St. David’s Day, celebrated every year on March 1.
Because the daffodil is one of the first flowers of spring, it is also symbolic of hope. If your birthday falls in March, hopefully someone will remember you and send a happy bouquet of bright spring daffodils.