Wild Flowers - White Hooped-Petticoat Daffodil

White Hooped-Petticoat Daffodil - Narcissus cantabricus.  © Tony Hall
White Hooped-Petticoat Daffodil - Narcissus cantabricus. © Tony Hall

White Hooped-Petticoat Daffodil, Narcissus cantabricus.

by Tony Hall

A pretty little early flowering narcissus, 5-10cm tall. The species name cantabricus, suggests that it grows in the Cantabrian Mountains of northern Spain. But it has never been found growing in Northern Spain and wrongly was described from the area. But its old name stands.

The lightly scented solitary flowers are borne on short round stems, and are a brilliant ice-white. Leaves can be either erect or prostrate, they're slightly channelled, to around 15cm long. The flower tube is constricted at its greenish base, then opens to a widely inflated corona, around 3cm in diameter, with a wavy margin. The style and filaments are pure white, with contrasting bright yellow pollen. The six petals are shorter than the corona, coming out at almost right angles and often green tipped when young.

It is one of the first of the spring narcissus to flower, in December - March.

They can often be found growing in quite large scattered colonies, sometimes 100s of plants.

The habitat where they are found is quite varied, from grassy slopes to stony and rocky banks. They often appear to grow out of the rock.

The Iberian Peninsula is the centre of diversity when it comes to Narcissus, it is thought that up to 90% of all species can be found here, with many sub-species and natural hybrids.

Tony Hall, Manager of the Arboretum and Gardens at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, specialising in the plants of Andalucía.