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How to Identify Jonquils and Daffodils

By Teo Spengler ; Updated August 23, 2018
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Once you've seen daffodils (Narcissus spp.) "fluttering and dancing in the breeze," you'll have as hard a time forgetting them as the poet William Wordsworth did. Maybe it's the bright, gay yellow color of the outer leaves behind the orange corona, or the way the flower heads seem to nod happily in the wind. Given the over 14,000 daffodil cultivars, horticulturists separated them into 14 divisions for identification. Division 7 daffodils are the jonquils (Narcissus jonquilla), and although they do not bear the division number when they toss heads in a field or garden, you'll have no trouble identifying them.

Count the flowers on a stalk. Generally, daffodils grow one big blossom atop a green stalk, but jonquils have several smaller blooms -- up to eight in some cultivars. The petals and corona of jonquils are often the same color.

Inspect the foliage. Most daffodils have long, flat leaves. Jonquil leaves resemble reeds, thin and cylindrical.

Sniff. Jonquil perfume is powerful, while other daffodils have only a light fragrance.

 

About the Author

 

Teo Spengler is a docent with the San Francisco Botanical Garden and a staff writer with Gardening Know How. She has written hundreds of gardening and plant articles for sites like eHow Gardening, Gardening Know How and Hunker. She holds a JD in law from U.C. Berkeley, an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing.