Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden




Narcissus ‘King Alfred’

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah - August

Common name golden trumpet daffodil
Scientific name Narcissus ‘King Alfred’
Family  Amaryllidaceae
Etymology

Genus: Narcissus - Greek mythology, the young man who died from abandoning all else to gaze at his own reflection. Or from narkao, Greek for ‘I numb myself’ in reference to the narcotic properties of the bulb and leaves.

Cultivar name: ‘King Alfred’ - honours Alfred The Great, King of Wessex in the 9th century.

Native habitat Ancestors of today’s many trumpet daffodil cultivars include wild species from Spain and Portugal such as Narcissus pseudonarcissus.
Description Golden flowers up to 10 cm or more across on a plant that often reaches 60 cm in height. A long, flaring trumpet (also called a corona or cup), in a deeper shade, protrudes from slightly twisted petals/tepals.
Flowering/fruiting An early season cultivar, often flowering late July and throughout August.

Location

Formal Garden, Residence Garden, Brunet Meadow

 

Imagine the ‘must have’ appeal in the early 1900s of this award-winning, large-flowered, golden trumpet daffodil! The clamour to acquire bulbs, the high prices paid and the affection in which these heralds of spring were held. It is easier then to understand how the nursery trade often sold the true ‘King Alfred’ as well as many improved versions under the name the customers demanded. So, a little like the roo on the Qantas plane tail and the leaf on the Canadian flag, Narcissus ‘King Alfred’ has become a generic name for many early season, tall, golden trumpet daffodil cultivars. The symbol for the Cancer Council also takes this form.

The breeder or raiser, John Kendall of England, worked on ‘King Alfred’ prior to his death in 1890 and it was registered with the Royal Horticultural Society in 1899.

Today, bulbs sold as ‘King Alfred’ are descendents of the 'king' with cultivars such as ‘Unsurpassable’, ‘Golden Harvest’ and others blended into these attempts to improve the golden trumpet daffodil.

Our sources for bulbs have been the Victorian growers plus material shipped from Holland to Mount Tomah by Alfred Brunet between 1930 and 1960. The latter have been examined by experts and thought not to be the original 'king'.

A few bulb growers in Holland maintain some true ‘King Alfred’ daffodils. 

 

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