Daffodils in March :: Birth Flower of the Month
With their cheerful little cup and saucer anatomy, the cheery Daffodil is the traditional Birth Flower for this new month of March.
Symbolising the arrival of Spring, they are one of the first flowers of the new season in the Northern Hemisphere; while here in the Southern Hemisphere, now that's it's Autumn, March is the time to order and begin to plant this old-fashioned bulb.
Read on to discover what special hidden meanings this cheerful flower conveys as the Birth Flower for March....
At the height of its popularity, the secret language of flowers was a code used by lovers in the 19th century to convey meanings via the gift of flowers. Presenting a posy of Daffodils would convey "Let's start anew" or "I will always remember you" - which was a handy way of moving on from quarrels or simply marking a momentous friendship.
As a Birth Flower, the Daffodil represents the same meanings - particularly that of new life or new beginnings, as well as remembrance. Not surprisingly therefore, in its original bright golden form, the Daffodil has also been adopted by various cancer charities as a symbol of both hope and memory of lost loved ones.
Daffodils are the common name for the flowering bulbs of the Narcissus genus of the Amaryllis family. Narcissus include both the golden yellow old fashioned Daffodils, but also other members such as Paper Whites & Jonquils. They come in pale and bright yellow, as well as newer varieties of paler tones of cream, buff, pink and pale gold - and white.
Native to the wild meadows of southern Europe & across to North Africa, they are carefree plants which tend to look after themselves with annual flowering every spring, as long as they get enough sunshine. The bulbs will self-divide each year - so a small clump of bulbs left alone in a garden will richly reward the gardener over the years with more and more beauty each season.
Narcissus should be planted in early Autumn, and rarely require any special gardening care - they are the ultimate friend for the carefree gardener! They can be lifted and divided, then replanted to increase their spread about the garden, but as many a derelict garden will attest, they will happily multiply and flower decade after decade all by themselves.
MEDICINAL USES FOR DAFFODILS
Because the plant is quite poisonous to both humans and animals, it was actually used in traditional medicine to induce vomiting - sometimes with dire consequences. Most of the toxin is found in the bulb, but is also present in the leaves, as a defence mechanism against being eaten. Narcissus contains lycorine, which is an alkaloid poison - causing trembling, convulsions, cardiac arrest and paralysis.
Narcissus was used in the ancient world for a range of complaints, from cancer to baldness - and was even believed to be a contraceptive. Roots were dried and ground, stems were chopped and boiled - all given to the hopeful patient in the belief that a cure would be delivered.
Despite this chequered past, Narcissus are grown for use in modern medicine in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, as a source of the alkaline Galantamine (which can increase concentration in certain parts of the brain). Other medicinal studies have found extracts from the plant have potential uses as anti-bacterial, antifungal and anti-tumour agents. So perhaps those ancient doctors were onto something after all.....
Gift Ideas of Daffodils for March Birthdays
So if you're hunting for a thoughtful gift for a friend or loved one born in March, perhaps consider presenting them with their Birth Flower - the historical Daffodil.
If it's Spring in your part of the world, in the Northern Hemisphere, you could select a gorgeous locally made ceramic pot and fill it with the flowering bulbs - or simply wrap up a huge bunch of the palest pink and white daffodils and snowdrops in recycled paper tied with the long leaves from some of the Narcissus plants.
And if you're in the Northern Hemisphere, and welcoming the start of Autumn as we are here, perhaps your gift could be a gorgeous organic cotton string bag filled with bulbs ready for planting, together with a hand crafted planting tool.