Narcissus cantabricus (white hoop petticoat daffodil)
The white hoop petticoat daffodil is named after the characteristic shape of its flower.
About this species
The genus (a group of related species) Narcissus has its centre of diversity in the Iberian Peninsula in Spain and Portugal, but species can be found all around the Mediterranean and some occur in North Africa.
The white hoop petticoat daffodil is related to the common daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, but is located in a different section of the genus – section Bulbocodii. Bulbocodiums or ‘hoop petticoats’ are easy to recognise as the characteristic central trumpet, or corona, looks like a widely flaring cone - hence the common name.
The name ‘cantabricus’ refers to the area of Cantabria in Northern Spain where the species was incorrectly thought to originate. In fact it is a plant of southern Spain, Algeria, Morocco and the Balearics.
Geography & Distribution
In the wild this species is found in the hills and mountains of Morocco, Algeria, the Balearic Islands and the extreme south of Spain.
Narcissus cantabricus (Image: Richard Wilford)
The white flowers of Narcissus cantabricus are produced in winter, from as early as November through to February or March, and have inflated coronas (additional structure between the petals and the stamens) and perianth tubes (sepals and petals combined), with a slight constriction where the perianth segments join. They are 2.8–4.5 cm across and held on 3–10 cm tall stems.
The anthers (male parts) produce yellow pollen, and do not usually protrude from the corona. The style (female part) and filaments (stalk that bear the anthers) are white. The one or more leaves are long and narrow, only 1 or 2 mm wide.
One of the most beautiful forms, N. cantabricus var. petunioides, from North Africa, has a widely expanded corona with the margin rolled outwards.
The Swiss botanist, Augustin de Candolle, described Narcissus cantabricus in Redouté’s Les Liliacées in 1815. He placed it in section Bulbocodii, along with six other species.
All the North African hoop petticoats were once considered subspecies or varieties of Narcissus bulbocodium but in a revision of Narcissus in 1968, Professor Fernandes from the Botanical Institute at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, recognised five species. All the white-flowered hoop coats, except two (N. bulbocodium var. graellsii and N. romieuxii subsp. albidus), are treated as forms of N. cantabricus.
Narcissus cantabricus is cultivated as an ornamental.
Although many of the early-flowering daffodils can be grown in the open garden, the bulbs of Narcissus cantabricus are best protected from high rainfall when they are dormant. It is a fairly hardy species untroubled by temperatures as low as -10°C, so a well-ventilated cold frame, in full sun, is ideal. The frame lights should be left open as much as possible when the plants are in growth and only closed during bouts of heavy rain, snow or frost.
Pot-grown bulbs can be repotted in late summer to inspect them for pests and diseases, such as basal rot and Narcissus fly, and to provide fresh soil. They should be replanted in a gritty, loam-based soil mix. Low nitrogen, high potash feed should be given with each watering as the roots often spiral round the base of the pot and need to be supplied with plenty of nutrients.
Narcissus bulbs will produce offsets but the best method of propagation is from seed. Narcissus cantabricus will take around four years to reach flowering size.
This species at Kew
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