Le parfum narcotique du Narcisse

The narcotic scent of Narcissus

The origins of the Narcissus flower.


Narcissus is a herbaceous plant, which is part of the Amaryllidaceae family.

It is a bulbous perennial plant, with white flowers (yellow or orange depending on the species) composed of six petals and a crown. Depending on the variety, their long flowering begins in winter generally around February and extends until June.

There are around fifty species, including the popular varieties “Poets' Narcissus” (Narcissus poeticus), “Paperwhite” (Narcissus papyraceus), the most fragrant of the Narcissus, as well as the daffodil (Narcissus jonquilla), with its sweet and pleasant scent.


Narcissus is a flower found in France in the wild in areas with moderate heat, such as damp meadows, undergrowth, and near watercourses such as the banks of rivers. There are some on the high plateaus at altitude, in the Massif Central, in the Aubrac region, as well as in the Jura massif.

It also grows in Europe, North Africa, and Asia.

This flower, which grows near water points, gives it the particularity of its posture inclined towards the ground, which recalls the character from Greek mythology, Narcissus.

“Narcissus is a symbol of vanity and self-centeredness in Greek mythology. With his unparalleled beauty, he fell in love with his own image in a pool of water. Captivated by his reflection, and ignoring the attempts of the beautiful nymph Echo to bring him back to reality and away from the pool, he languishes in despair, and dies of hunger and thirst. His body then transformed into a flower, which would later bear his name.”

Fleurs de Narcisses blanches et jaunes 


The Narcissus harvest.


The head of the flower mainly contains the fragrant nectar, so it is this part that is picked during the harvest. 

The extraction is then carried out by plunging several kilos of flowers into a vat containing volatile solvents, which once evaporated will produce the concrete. This paste is then diluted in alcohol, then filtered, in order to obtain the absolute containing the most odorous molecules. 

It takes 1.5 to 2 tonnes of Narcissus (which represents a quantity of approximately 800,000 flowers) to obtain 3 kg of concrete and therefore 1 kg of absolute which will be used to produce extracts for perfumery. 


The addictive smell of Narcissus.


Narcissus is an incredibly fragrant flower, which gives off intense, almost narcotic scents, and which can give a migraine, depending on the varieties and the intensity of their scent.

However, it has a captivating scent, powerful and tender at the same time, with heady and sweet facets.

Since its stems are also treated during the extraction of the absolute, Narcissus also has a greener, herbaceous and earthy scent reminiscent of hay.

Fleur de Narcisse blanche avec couronne rouge 


Properties of Narcissus.


Like many plants, Narcissus has medicinal properties, however, it has high toxicity for humans and animals.

For example, it has emetic properties and antispasmodic actions.

Also, once dried, the calming and sedative flowers can be used as an infusion.

It is also used in cosmetics, such as shampoo and creams, for its softening and moisturizing properties.

However, Narcissus must be handled with caution, especially the bulb, because it contains toxic substances, alkaloids. Contact with Narcissus sap, which is allergic and irritating, should also be avoided.

Photo credits : IStock - (photo 1 : vik898,  Photo 2 : Studio-Annika)

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