Jordan Bilsborrow

JordanFaceThe classification of the genus Narcissus has proved controversial both in terms of species limits and infrageneric groups.  There have been many attempts at the classification of this taxonomically problematic genus (Haworth 1831; Baker 1875; Pugsley 1933; Fernandes 1951; Fernandes 1975; Webb 1980; Zonneveld 2008) each with a varying number of recognised taxa, with a range from 150 (Haworth 1861) at the upper end, to only 16 taxa (Baker 1875) at the lower, with the majority of treatments close to the 16 taxa recognised by Baker.

Due to the enormous horticultural and cultural interest in this genus funding from the Royal Horticultural Society and the University of Reading has been gained to support my PhD.  I will focus upon the taxonomy of sections Jonquillae and Apodanthi within this genus, as we work towards a monograph. I am supervised by Dr. Alastair Culham and Dr. John David, Head of Horticultural Taxonomy at the RHS. This project follows on from a successful PhD completed by Dr. Kálmán Könyves studying Narcissus section Bulbocodii (Könyves, 2014).

Narcissus subsp. watieri a Moroccan endemic

Narcissus subsp. watieri a Moroccan endemic

As well as the 16-150 taxa in Narcissus there are there are more than 30,000 cultivars currently recognised (M. Underwood pers. comm.).   It is remarkable that no monograph has ever been completed considering this vast horticultural interest in the genus, but perhaps the number of cultivars makes the task too big. Problems also lay here, with the identification and origin of cultivars and this is something which I aim to address throughout the PhD testing whether molecular tools are transferable to cultivars belonging to these sections and if they can aid identification.

I will use molecular tools including next generation sequencing in order to separate species of this very difficult genus, focussing on the taxa within Jonquillae and Apodanthi which morphologically have proven difficult to separate.

My first field visit to Morocco is now completed.


Baker, J.G. (1875) Review of the genus Narcissus. In: F.W. Burbidge (ed.), The Narcissus: its History and Culture, Reeve, London.

Fernandes, A. (1951) Sur la phylogénie des espèces du genre Narcissus L. Boletim da
Sociedade Broteriana Series 2, 25: 113-190.

Fernandes, A. (1975) L’evolution chez le genre Narcissus L. Anales del Instituto Botánico A. J. Cavanilles 32: 843-872

Haworth, A.H. (1831) Narcissinearum Monographia. Ridgway, London, UK.

Könyves, K. (2014) Taxonomy to underpin cultivar identification in hoop-petticoat daffodils. PhD thesis, University of Reading.

Pugsley, H.W. (1933) A monograph of Narcissus subgenus Ajax. Journal of Royal Horticultural Society 58: 17-93

Webb, D.A. (1980) Narcissus. In: T.G. Tutin, V.H. Heywood, N.A. Burges, D.M. Moore, D.H. Valentine, S.M. Walters, D.A. Webb, A.O. Chater and I.B.K. Richardson, Flora Europaea, pp. 78-84, Vol. 5, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Zonneveld, B.J.M. (2008) The systematic value of nuclear DNA content for all species
of Narcissus L. (Amaryllidaceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution 275: 109-132.

5 Responses to Jordan Bilsborrow

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