Narcissus papyraceus - Paper-white Narcissus

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Asparagales - Family: Amaryllidaceae

Narcissus papyraceus, Paper-white Narcissus

Paper-white Narcissus is a gorgeous and gregarious wildflower of Mediterranean countries.


Growing from underground bulbs, plants usually grow in clumps rather than singly; they attain a height of 30 to 45cm and have dark-green lanceolate leaves. When in flower this is a very distinctive Narcissus species: it has all-white flowers with bright yellow stamens. A short tubular corola (cup) surrounds the stamens, and beyond this are six (very occasionally up to eight) petals. Each flowering stem carries up to 10 individual flowers in densely packed clusters.


Narcissus papyraceus is found in many parts of the Iberian Peninsula as well as inother Mediterranean countries. Its range extends slouthwards into Northwest Africa and eastwards towards the Balkans.


The Paper-white Narcissus lines rivers banks and colonises other boggy ground and low-lying meadows where the soil does not dry out completely.

Blooming times

Paper-white Narcissus reminds us of spring gardens in Britain, but these plants bloom in December, January and February when the temperatures are at their lowest in the Mediterranean, and they are long gone before daffodils appear in the UK and other parts of Northern Europe.

A swathe of Paper-white Narcissus in the western Algarve


Regrettably these lovely wildflowers are alltoo often picked to be taken home and placed in vases, where they reward their plunderers by emitting an extremely unpleasant odour! Surely these stars of the natural world are best left alone to adorn the countryside for a month or more rather than decorating holiday villas for just a couple of days.

arcissus papyraceus, closeupof flower

The specimens shown here were seen in the Algarve in Portugal during March.

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