A SYMBOL of luck, wealth and peace, narcissus is a traditional flower for the Chinese New Year. It has been a favorite among poets, scholars and painters.
There are hundreds of types of narcissus, including daffodils. Narcissus, which grows from a bulb, was imported to China from the western Mediterranean region during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).
It is considered one of China’s 10 best-known classic flowers, along with peony, plum blossom and osmanthus.
The highly fragrant Chongming narcissus is jade-white with a golden center. It’s one of the two most famous varieties in China, the other being from Zhangzhou in Fujian Province.
The Chongming narcissus is smaller, more delicate and sweeter in fragrance and longer blooming than the Zhangzhou variety.
In 2010, Chongming narcissus was displayed at the Taipei International Flower and Plant Exposition and was praised by visitors and experts.
During this season, the Shanghai Chongming Baiye Narcissus Center in Xianghua Town is a sea of white and gold flowers.
As one of the largest production facilities in China for Chongming narcissus, the center covers 17.3 hectares and produces 80,000 bulbs a year.
“Chongming narcissus is one of our Chongming precious products, and it has 500 years’ history,” says Shi Keqiang, board director of the center.
He has spent 10 years collecting and improving Chongming narcissus to make it commercially viable.
“The average blooming period of narcissus is 20 days. However, Chongming narcissus can last for nearly 40 days.
The multi-petal flowers are more attractive,” Shi says.
The best time to appreciate narcissus is from the end of December to February, Shi says. Within two hours’ drive from downtown Shanghai, visitors can tour the fields and learn how narcissus is grown. The mini-pots with seven to eight bulbs are popular and cost 30 yuan (US$4.96) each. There are 20,000 pots available for wonderful Spring Festival gifts.
There is also a variety of pots and fresh picked narcissus flowers available on taobao.com.
Chongming Baiye Narcissus Center
Address: 3689 Xianghua Rd, Xianghua Town, Chongming County