Narcissus, a spring-blooming garden plant with nodding, star-shaped flowers. It is closely related to the daffodil and jonquil. The narcissus is native to southern Europe. It grows from a bulb, and has long, flat, narrow leaves. The flower has the form of a tube surmounted by six petallike segments and a low corona. Narcissus flowers are notably fragrant. Oils extracted from the flowers of some species are used in perfumes and soaps.
Hundreds of varieties of narcissuses (or narcissi) are cultivated outdoors and in greenhouses. The poet's narcissus has leaves 18 inches (46 cm) long and 1/4 inch (6 mm) wide. The single flower, 2 inches (5 cm) across, is white with a wavy-edged, red-margined corona. The polyanthus narcissus has somewhat broader leaves. Its flowers, 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) across, are borne in clusters. Varieties of the polyanthus narcissus include the paper white, whose glistening all-white flowers are forced by florists for winter blooming; and the bright yellow Chinese sacred lily, or joss flower.The poet's narcissus has long leaves and a white flower with a red-orange center.
Some varieties can be raised indoors in bowls containing only pebbles and water. Outdoors, the bulbs are planted in late summer or fall in rich, light, well-drained soil. After three or four years, when the plants become crowded, the bulbs are taken up and replanted. The narcissus often is attacked by rot, which usually shows as small, dark, seedlike objects on the roots, bulb, or neck of the plant near the soil line.
The poet's narcissus is Narcissus poeticus; polyanthus narcissus, N. tazetta; paper white, N. tazetta; Chinese sacred lily, N. t. orientalis. All belong to the amaryllis family, Amaryllidaceae.