Nature on our doorsteps – Golden daffodils
By Rosaleen Dwyer
Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures.
Depending on how mild the weather is in winter, daffodils can begin to bloom as early as December or January.
The main burst of colour however is normally between February and March.
Golden daffodils in bloom at Sean Walsh Park
While clumps of daffodils are sometimes found growing wild in the countryside, experts are unsure if this plant is native to Ireland or not.
Some suggest they were in fact introduced at some point in the past, ‘escaping’ over time from their garden homes to become naturalised in the wild.
Originally, daffodils were plants of deciduous woodland, blooming early in spring before the woodland floor is shaded by new leaf growth on the trees above.
After flowering, daffodil’s trumpet-shaped heads droop and wither.
The plant isn’t finished yet though, as its long green leaves continue to make food for several more weeks.
There are many different colour combinations of daffodils
This food is returned to the underground bulbs, storing up the energy that the plant will need for next year’s flowering.
It could be expected that daffodil’s fleshy green leaves might be tasty, attracting grazing animals like deer or rabbits.
They’re not, because daffodil’s leaves and bulbs contain a strong alkaloid poison that keeps grazing animals away. This alkaloid can be harmful for us too if eaten.
In Irish, daffodils are called Lus an Chromchinn, which translates as ‘plant with the drooping head’.