Discover a new plant or fungi each month on a guided tour with our knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff. Go behind the scenes to areas of the Gardens not normally seen by the public. Gain an insight into the different aspects of work that Kew undertakes in areas of science, horticulture and conservation.
During the guided tour you will meet the expert staff who care for the plants and fungi growing in the collections and those who undertake research and conservation work behind the scenes.
You'll come away with a much greater understanding of Kew's important work around the world and how we help with conservation.
Depending on the featured plant or fungi the tour could include a visit to the Jodrell Laboratory, the Herbarium or one our Nurseries. You'll see how Kew's research can be used to help people across the globe with re-forestation and finding alternative crops for farming in remote areas.
- Tours will be mainly outside, but some behind the scenes areas may also be visited
- All locations are wheelchair accessible
- Maximum 15 places per tour
- Meet at the Information Desk at Victoria Gate Plaza 15 minutes before the tour is due to start
March 2017 — Narcissus (daffodil)
Introduction to Narcissus
Narcissus is a genus in the Amaryllidaceae, the family which includes snowdrops (Galanthus), snowflakes (Leucojum) and amaryllis (Hippeastrum). The common name for all Narcissus species is daffodil, or jonquil. There are around 50 species of Narcissus but more than 15,000 cultivars, with around 500 of these in commercial production. They typically flower from late winter through to late spring, depending on the species, cultivar and, of course, the weather!
Narcissus has a mainly Mediterranean distribution with a centre of diversity in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar). It is a perennial, bulb-forming genus with linear leaves. The ‘dry’ bulbs we plant in the autumn are a dormant form of the plant and are composed of roots, stem and leaves.
Narcissus at Kew
The genus Narcissus is grown across the Gardens. The majority of the species are represented, but only a tiny fraction of all cultivars are grown here. The Davies Alpine House, Rock Garden and Mediterranean Garden showcase the species, with cultivars predominating where they are naturalized in turf or in ornamental plantings. Many of the species you see growing come from material collected by Kew staff on expeditions. Narcissus pseudonarcissus (Lent lily) is one of the earliest species to flower at Kew and its first date of flowering is recorded each year. The study of the timing of flowering is called phenology. In 2016 it was already in flower by 2 January – the earliest recorded. The average first flowering date for this species at Kew since 2000 is 29 January.
Five species of Narcissus are currently listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and their existence is threatened in the wild. Kew scientists and horticulturists are working to safeguard the future of these species by collecting seed for ex situ cultivation and seed banking. Recent trips collected 34 herbarium specimens and 36 living plants belonging to eight different Narcissus species. The plants will become part of the display collection.
Next month's tour