I know that the hundreds of varieties of cultivated daffodil have been bred from Narcissus pseudonarcissus, the European wild daffodil. What I wasn’t sure about was the status of the wild daffodil in Ireland.
So I went on the internet — spent quite a lot of time on it — and ended up baffled and confused. One reputable site informed me that wild daffodils were a rather rare and declining species in Britain but were not native to northern Scotland or Ireland.
Another, equally reputable, claimed that they were native to Ireland, though rather rare, and there was even a mention of a woodland site where they grow in Co Kilkenny.
So what’s the story?
Perhaps they are not native here but have been introduced at some time in the past to brighten up estate woodlands in spring.
Or perhaps the daffodils that grow ‘wild’ along river banks and in some woodlands are actually cultivated varieties that have naturalised and reverted to a simpler form. Or perhaps, and this happens quite often, someone was reading a British textbook and came across the word ‘native’ and assumed it applied to Ireland. If any botanists out there know the correct answer I’d love to hear it.
I would love to too. Incidentally I cannot endorse Warner’s view that Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” is “awful.” Overfamiliar perhaps, like the Mona Lisa, but not awful.