Narcissus (genus)

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Narcissus (pronounced /nɑrˈsɪsəs/)[1] is the botanic name for a genus of mainly hardy, mostly spring-flowering, bulbs in the Amaryllis family native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia. There are also several Narcissus species that bloom in the autumn. Though Hortus Third [2] cites 26 wild species, Daffodils for North American Gardens[3] cites between 50 and 100 including species variants and wild hybrids. Through taxonomic and genetic research, it is speculated that over time this number will probably continue to be refined.[4] Daffodil is a common English name, sometimes used now for all varieties, and is the chief common name of horticultural prevalence used by the American Daffodil Society.[5] The range of forms in cultivation has been heavily modified and extended, with new variations available from specialists almost every year.

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Names

There are two derivations of the name. One is that of the youth of Greek mythology called Narcissus, who, in at least one of many variations of the tale, became so obsessed with his own reflection as he kneeled and gazed into a pool of water that he fell into the water and drowned. In some variations, he died of starvation and thirst from just sitting by the edge of the pool until he gave out, gazing at his reflection until he died. In both versions, the Narcissus plant first sprang from where he died.

The other derivation is that the plant is named after its narcotic properties (ναρκάω narkao, "to grow numb" in Greek).[6]

There are several plurals in common use: "Narcissuses", "Narcissi", and "Narcissus". This last is common in American English but is very rare in British usage. The American Webster's Third New International Dictionary gives plurals in the order "Narcissus", "Narcissuses", and "Narcissi", but the British Compact Oxford English Dictionary lists just "Narcissi" and "Narcissuses".

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