Notes From Spain

About 10 or 11 years ago, Lynne and I revisited Galicia to try and find N.cyclamineus and hopefully, N.lagoi. This latter plant being the one as described in John Blanchard’s book on Narcissus species in the wild and attributed to Dr Giuseppi some 80-90 years ago, if my memory serves me well?

We did,in fact,find more N.cyclamineus than you could shake a stick at and in several previously unrecorded locations.(It had long been thought that N.cyclamineus was only to be found on a private estate nearer the lower altitude coastal area of Western Galicia, but we found it fairly well inland and higher than one might have expected.). That trip was in the 2nd-3rd week in March and whilst there were places we found the N.cyclamineus setting seed, we still found plenty in full, fresh flower.

Our other quarry was somewhat less easy to trace, partly because so little was known about N.lagoi save the few brief notes in John’s book, which suggested it was found Weat of Lugo, near or within the confines of an electricity/power station? It’s description was somewhat bemusing – a section Pseudonarcissus type flower with flowers larger than N.asturiensis and stems that varied between 10-50cm tall!

That year we headed towards Lugo on a minor road(if you’ll pardon the pun} that approached from due West and we searched several side roads off this road as we went along. About 3kms from Friol we found a couple of fields full of N.bulbocodium in prime condition(at Xia) and then further on from this tiny village we found what looked like daffodil foliage and just an odd straggly, end of season flower of Pseudonarcissus persuasion. Most of the plants were well into seed set and must have been in full flower some 4-6 weeks earlier than when we were. There were only two or three late,late flowers left in any fit condition to identify them acurately and even these were not good. Many of the plants were growing in the cart tracks at the rear of a stone barn, that was close to a small stream that obviously kept them supplied with sufficient moisture. I remember it being very hot that year, even in March. Along the banks of the stream were brambles and every so often a small clump of daffodil leaves where more of the same plants grew. On further inspection, these stretched into the grassy field that followed the streams course, though here again, only foliage and the odd seed pod was visible.

Where the brambles grew, the foliage and flower stems with seed pods were markedly taller than the plants growing in the more open cart tracks. We had found what we believed could well be similar plants to Dr.Giuseppi’s N.lagoi? The plants were roughly twice the average size of N.asturiensis and certainly, more upright in their habit and with flowers pointing above the horizontal plane. The foliage at this stage was quite broad, plicate and much longer than that of N.asturiensis.

My initial thoughts were yes it could be N.lagoi, but equally, could it be N.minor, bearing in mind that the flowers were not too dissimilar to N.asturiensis and that N.asturiensis was at one time known as N.minor. minimus! Which would tie in with what we were seeing. Unfortunately, N. minor seems to be a stumbling block with amateur and professional enthusiasts/botanists alike,no one seeming to agree on their appearance, or even existence!

There has been quite a lot of interest shown in the last few years about N. ‘Cedric Morris’ and its origin/location in the wild and the wonderfully graphic story of its capture and provenance. It was, as you will have no doubt read earlier, found in Galicia near to the town of Luarca on the Northern coast of Spain, growing alongside the main coast road (N634)West towards Ribadeo and A Coruna in Dec/Jan in full flower. Although the N634 still exists in part this has been superseded by a more modern autovia and previous improvements to the N634 have seen habitats and locations disappear, where once our Narcissus grew.

I know that James and Wendy Akers have searched and better searched for any sign or remnants of ‘Cedric Morris’ in and around Luarca in December, January and February for the last two years, without success. Similarly, Lynne and I have looked every time we have come this way, sadly, with the same result. The reason I mention all this is because, having just two days ago revisited our original N. lagoi location near Friol on January 28th 2013, we found it in flower and as fresh as could be. We duly sent a photograph of one of the flowers to James and Wendy and one to Jackie Petherbridge for their thoughts. James quickly replied to say how much it looked like ‘Cedric Morris’ and I said that was not surprising as ‘Cedric Morris’ is a clone of N.minor(as it was in those days) and I still think that ‘our’ N.lagoi is, or could be, N.minor? We are due to revisit the ‘N.lagoi’ location again in several days time, when the rest of the plants should be in full bloom and give a better idea as to their identity. We will also, as James has asked, collect a leaf sample, which will be sent to Professor/Dr Zonneveld for DNA testing and a more scientific analysis of its possible identity or link to N.minor?

 We will be here in Galicia in Echo, our 26′ 4 tonnes motorhome, for the next few weeks and will be searching for any other Narcissus species in the area and perhaps an odd day or two’s foray into Northern Portugal in the Serra de Geres where we have previously found daffodils. We will also be acting as guides to a party of four Daffodil Society enthusiasts in March, when Reg Nicholl, Jackie Petherbridge, Gwynne Davies and Ron Cain(?) fly over for a weeks field trip with us. So watch this space for more photos and reports.
Jan & Lynne Dalton
Galicia, North-West Spain, January 2013

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