In March 1986 the world-renowned Narcissus expert, John Blanchard undertook a botanical study trip to south eastern Spain. He visited a number of locations throughout Andalucía and Castilla-La Mancha with the aim of finding Narcissus species in the wild. His trip was detailed in the RHS Daffodil Yearbook 1986-1987. It was whilst using the Lindley Library at Wisley that I accidentally stumbled across his article and the seeds of an idea for a research project germinated.
In March 2016, I will use Blanchard's detailed article to revisit the same sites that he was at some thirty years before me, to review the occurrence of Narcissus species in their wild habitats. I will visit the specified sites during the same time frame as Blanchard's own trip (end of March), seeking out the species and natural hybrids that John Blanchard was looking for and found as well as collecting my own, incidental records of other species at those sites and along the way.
The Iberian peninsula is the centre of diversity for Narcissus species, many of which are increasingly facing pressure from both natural (climate change) and anthropogenic (development and land-use change) impacts. They are also a fast-evolving group with many naturally occurring hybrids, sometimes leading to the formation of new species. This project will generate valuable new data on Narcissus species and hybrids in the wild and review the fortunes of known populations (for good or ill) over the intervening thirty years.
Whilst this research project is planned to be carried out on a minimal budget (expenditure is limited to travel, accommodation and two pieces of essential equipment - a tripod and GPS), I am unable to meet the total costs of this trip wholly from my own pocket. Unfortunately, the application window for the Scottish Rock Garden Club's Exploration Fund 2015/16 has passed and the next panel will not convene until after this project must be undertaken. Therefore, I am seeking the support of like-minded "Narcissus nuts" who would like to help increase our understanding of these beautiful plants. Your pledge, of any value, will be a greatly valued contribution to this research project and will allow the knowledge gained to be shared with a wider audience.
The outputs of this research project will include articles to be published in the SRGC journals 'The Rock Garden' and 'International Rock Gardener', a series of lectures and a detailed report of the findings from this research project.
You can find out more about the SRGC, including access to a huge amount of freely accessible information at: www.srgc.net
Blanchard's 1986 article Cover of Blanchard's great opus
Some of the Narcissus species Blanchard found on his trip include:
Narcissus (bulbocodium) nivalis
Narcissus cantabricus (shown here is the tenuous North African ssp. tanaicus)
Narcissus jonquilla ssp. henriquesii (this is the cultivated selection 'Twinkling Yellow')
Hybrids between bulbocodium and triandrus (this is Rannveig Wallis' hybrid 'Solveig's Song')
Narcissus hedraeanthus ex Cazorla (one of the locations to be visited)
Forms of Narcissus bulbocodium
All plants shown above are from cultivated sources and are growing in my own collection.