What Is The Difference Between Daffodil, Jonquil, And Narcissus

Yellow Narcissus Flowers
(Image credit: Reimphoto)

There are new cultivars of daffodils introduced to eager gardeners every year. Multiple colors, double petals, bigger and better or smaller and cuter; the list is endless. These are often marketed under the name Narcissus, which is the scientific name for this group of plants. 

Among similar looking plants, you will also find references to jonquils. What is the difference between daffodil, jonquil, and Narcissus? Some of the answers depend on the region, while the rest of the answer is divided by cultivars and scientific classification.

Narcissus Plant Info

Daffodils all fall under the botanical name, Narcissus. Narcissus also often refers to the smaller variety of daffodils. Regionally, jonquils may be called daffodils, but this is botanically incorrect. There are 13 divisions of daffodils, or Narcissus. Each division has special classifications and specific Narcissus plant info that delineates which class each species falls into. 

Is jonquil a Narcissus? Yes. Daffodil bulbs are Narcissus and jonquils are Narcissus. The overall scientific name is Narcissus, and it covers over 13,000 hybrids of both daffodil bulbs and jonquils.

The Difference Between Daffodil, Jonquil, and Narcissus

We now know that jonquils and daffodils are classed as Narcissus. Daffodil bulbs are generally barely scented while jonquils are very perfumed. When answering the question, "is jonquil a Narcissus," we should consult the Daffodil Society. The two words are synonymous but do not make the jonquil a daffodil. 

Jonquils are in Class 7 and 13 and have numerous, yellow scented blooms with rounded foliage. It is a small group of Narcissus and confined to just one group. Jonquils tend to grow in southern regions and USDA zones above 8. You can also grow daffodils in these areas, but jonquils are predominant and hardier in warmer regions.

Characteristics of Daffodils vs. Jonquils

There are 200 species of daffodil and over 25,000 cultivars, with more arriving annually. Class 7 holds the hybrids of jonquil, while Class 13 bears the species. The major difference between daffodils vs. jonquils would be the leaves. Jonquils have slender leaves that round on the tips while daffodils sport slim, sword tipped foliage. Jonquil stems are hollow and usually shorter than daffodil varieties

They tend to have clusters of flowers on the stems and a delicate fragrance. In flower shape and hue, they are very similar to daffodil bulbs and most gardeners simply don't differentiate. The length of the corolla is smaller in jonquils than daffodils. Additionally, jonquils only grow in yellow hues while daffodils may be found in white, peach, pink, and a variety of other colors. 

The cultivation and planting of both bulbs are the same and the presentation of a golden sea of flowers is just as pleasing no matter which species you choose.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.