Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Narcissus papyraceus Ker-Gawl.

Bulbous perennial with erect leaves and clusters of up to 10 strongly fragrant, glistening white flowers in winter and spring.  The flowers are more numerous and more fragrant than Narcissus tazetta.  To 35cm.  [RHSE, Baker Am.].  

Horticultural & Botanical History

First botanically described as Narcissus papyraceus by Ker-Gawler in 1806  [BM t.947/1806].

‘Very probably this, or the variety gamma of Narcissus orientalis, may have been the plant designed by Linnaeus for the type of his Tazeta, as likely indeed as the one we have given under that title; but, as he has evidently combined more than one species in his synonymy, we have thought it most useful to apply his name to the one which had been already figured under it in Redoute's work, and to adopt another for this plant, which we think distinct. Our species is possibly the crenulatus of Mr. Haworth, but his character is too short and indefinite to enable us to determine this fact, with certainty. Differs from Tazeta in having a shallower crown, with an erosely crenulate margin, a very much flattened ancipital scape, a smaller bulb, and an entirely white or a cream-coloured corona. The bulbs of this plant are usually imported by the owners of Italian warehouses immediately from Italy.  Very ornamental and fragrant, especially (beta) called in the shops the Roman Narcissus, which is often imported in a double state.’  [BM t.947/1806]. 

‘This is likewise tender, but so beautiful, that it deserves all the care and labour a gardener can bestow.  The leaves are very glaucous, forming a strong contrast to those of other plants, and the flowers are produced in large bunches, their delicate snow-white petals hanging lightly in the air, which they fill with perfume, resembling those of Jasmine.  In naming it therefore, instead of our shopmen’s vulgar comparison of Paper White, I have adopted L’Ecluse’s more appropriate one, which is in fact likewise a specific character.  It is probably wild near some of the coasts of Asia Minor, having been sent from Constantinople to Brussels in 1597; but the Dutch florists never succeeded in cultivating it, and we are still, as formerly, supplied with the bulbs from Italy.’  [THS vol.1 p.360/1805-1812].

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [B.346/1843].


Published May 21, 2009 - 03:51 PM | Last updated Jul 09, 2012 - 12:16 PM

the image shows leaves and an umbel of many white flowers with small cup.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.947, 1806.

Narcissus papyraceus Ker Gawl. | BM t.947/1806 | BHL


Family Amaryllidaceae
Region of origin

South-west Europe and North Africa

  • Narcissus tazetta L. subsp. papyraceus
  • Narcissus linnaeanus subsp. papyraceus (Ker Gawl.) Rouy
  • Hermione jasminea Salisb.
  • Hermione papyracea (Ker Gawl.) Salisb.


Common Name

Paper white narcissus, Joss flower

Name in the Camden Park Record

Narcissus papyraceus 


Confidence level high