FlowerMuse: Narcissus (Donald Trump)

Another week, another stream of Trump headlines.  From attacking his loyalist Attorney General (John Sessions) for being ‘weak’ and ‘beleaguered’ to  addressing 40,000 Boy Scouts with a political rant and also banning transgender soldiers from the US army, he’s certainly likes to prove time and again that he’s no shrinking wallflower.

There’s of course a well-known flower for Trump, the narcissus. An obvious choice perhaps but the show-off, yellowed-topped daffodil, the foremost symbol of conceit and egotism, is rather of a good fit for the President – in looks and character;


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Self-aggrandizing: Daffodils belong to the genus narcissus.  Named, it’s thought, because of the Greek god who, so enamored with his own reflection in a river, drowned trying to capture his reflection. Daffodils growing along stream banks looking at their reflected image in the water, became associated with Narcissus and then by his name.  Trump too has long cultivated his own image,  from playboy to entrepreneur to President, he certainly used self-promotion to trump up the Trump brand.


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Echo and Narcissus, John William Waterhouse (1903)


Self-serving: The daffodil is native to Southern Europe and was introduced into gardens in about 300BC. Both the Greeks and Romans grew daffodils, the latter bought them to England thinking their sap had healing powers (actually they contain crystals that irritate the skin, see below). From 1629 British gardeners decided to cultivate them.  In Switzerland and Austria the blooming of the narcissi is often celebrated with festivals. Daffodils were brought to America by settlers (probably from China) and, perhaps like Trump supporters, have naturalized in many areas of the United States.



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Self-seeking: Today daffodils are more often associated with good fortune, gladness and hope across the world (perhaps in time Trump will be similarly viewed…)

  • In China: as an auspicious symbol of good fortune, so esteemed it is the official symbol of the Chinese New year.
  • In Japan: for mirth and joyousness.
  • In France: as a sign of hope.
  • In Wales: A Welsh legend claims that the person to find the first daffodil bloom will be blessed with more gold than silver in the upcoming year. It’s also the national flower.
  • In Arab Countries:  As an aphrodisiac and cure for baldness.
  • In the United States: as the official symbol for the American Cancer Association, symbolizing hope for a cure. It is also the flower for the month of March and the symbol of the 10th wedding anniversary.
  • In the UK:   Daffodils were also the symbol of Marie Curie’s Garden of Light, an illuminated, interactive art installation on display in March. 2100 handmade daffodils were used to represent a Marie Curie nurse and their dedication to “bringing light in the darkest hours.”


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Garden of Light, London


Self-healing: For many daffodils are a welcome sign of Spring – prompting artists to sing their praises (most famously perhaps, Daffodils by William Wordsworth).  In fact there are thousands of hybrid varieties in as many combinations of colours, including orange and lime green.   Most are fragrant, and some even appear in early winter. Of course for Trump and his many supporters his Presidential win last year signaled a new beginning, a signal of warmer times and a glimmer of hope. Many Americans hope the Donald will be a panacea to their economic woes.  And so too does the daffodil plant have some healing properties;

  • As a plaster: to relieve pain associated with arthritis, wounds, burns and strains.
  • As herbal remedy: to treat asthma, colds and whooping cough and to induce vomiting
  • As an essential oil:  for relaxation and de-stressing in small doses, too much can cause headaches and vomiting.
  • As medicine: recent research is looking into daffodil treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and brain cancer


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Self-harming: But there is an darker side to these sunny blooms (as some might say of Donald Trump). The bulb of the daffodil is poisonous and if eaten, can cause vomiting.  It’s more likely that the name Narcissus derives from the Greek word narkao (numbness) on account of the narcotic properties.  The bulb extract, if applied to an open wound, can cause numbness of the whole nervous system and heart paralysis.  The flowers are also slightly poisonous and the sap is toxic to other flowers.  As florists will know only too well, the sap can also cause dermatitis and irritation to the skin, known as ‘daffodil itch’.  This is from the Calcium oxalate in the sap.  This forms bundles of needle-shaped crystals, called raphides in the leaves and roots, which protect it from being munched by animals.


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Self-offence: Some are even fearful of the daffodil. In Medieval Europe they believed that if your gaze caused a daffodil to droop it was an omen of impending death. And in the US state of Maine, there’s a belief that to point at a daffodil in bud will stop it flowering, and if the first flower that opened hung towards the observer, then it meant misfortune for the remainder of the year. Never give one flower, it will bring bad luck (so maybe Trump giving his family jobs in high places is a good thing…)


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Daffodils have a long and interesting history, they are hardy and perennial and spread easily…. time will us show if Trump is as resilient.


Featured Image: http://forward.com









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