How to Identify Jonquils and Daffodils

Once you've seen daffodils (Narcissus spp.) "fluttering and dancing in the breeze," you'll have as hard a time forgetting them as the poet William Wordsworth did. Maybe it's the bright, gay yellow color of the outer leaves behind the orange corona, or the way the flower heads seem to nod happily in the wind. Given the over 14,000 daffodil cultivars, horticulturists separated them into 14 divisions for identification. Division 7 daffodils are the jonquils (Narcissus jonquilla), and although they do not bear the division number when they toss heads in a field or garden, you'll have no trouble identifying them.

Daffodils in a field of daffodils.
credit: SazzyB/iStock/Getty Images

Step 1

Count the flowers on a stalk. Generally, daffodils grow one big blossom atop a green stalk, but jonquils have several smaller blooms -- up to eight in some cultivars. The petals and corona of jonquils are often the same color.

Step 2

Inspect the foliage. Most daffodils have long, flat leaves. Jonquil leaves resemble reeds, thin and cylindrical.

Step 3

Sniff. Jonquil perfume is powerful, while other daffodils have only a light fragrance.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler

From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. A professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler has written about home and garden for Gardening Know How, San Francisco Chronicle, Gardening Guide and Go Banking Rates. She earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.