narcissus flower meaning

Narcissus Flower Meaning and Symbolism to Know

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Also referred to as daffodils, narcissus flowers are bright, uplifting flowers that are some of the first to pop through the hard, frozen earth in the early spring. They herald spring and remind us that nothing lasts forever – not even the deep freeze of winter.

These flowers are absolutely stunning in a garden, but if you’re giving them to someone in an arrangement or bouquet, you might be wondering whether they hold any deeper meaning. 

Lucky for you, they do! These white flowers hold lots of deep symbolism – here’s what you should know when it comes to its flower meaning.

What Does Narcissus Mean?

Technically, Narcissus is the scientific and common name for this flower variety. Narcissus shares its nomenclature name with other 50 varieties of flowers, including daffodils. The name is derived from the Greek word “narcotic” as these flowers contain toxic alkaloids called lycorine. These substances are known to produce hallucination, dizziness, and nausea when ingested.

Additionally, the name Narcissus is closely related to the Greek myth of Narcissus – a young man who was the son of a nymph and a river god.

He was known for his exceptional beauty and became infatuated with his own reflection in a pool of water that he encountered in the forest. He stared at his reflection so intently that he eventually fell into the water and drowned. The flowers called Narcissus later appeared around the pool where he drowned.

The symbolism for Narcissus is profound and has dual meanings. The first meaning relates to the fatal flaw of self-love, narcissism, and self-admiration. The second meaning represents rebirth, renewal, and the arrival of spring.

Narcissus’s yellow petals and trumpet-shaped leaves represent hope and optimism for a new beginning. They bloom in early spring, which symbolizes rebirth, renewal, and the return of sunlight and warmth.

Additionally, in the world of art and literature, Narcissus has been a popular symbol representing the concept of beauty, self-admiration, and vanity. It is commonly used when describing a person who is overly concerned with their appearance, or obsessed with self-love.

narcissus paperwhite

What Do Narcissus Flowers Symbolize?

Because these flowers are more or less the same as daffodils, they have overlapping meaning, too. 

Flowers in the Amaryllidaceae family are typically viewed as symbols of wealth and prosperity, along with the arrival of spring and rebirth. They can symbolize happiness, renewal, good luck, and ensure happiness, along with misfortune, clarity, and inspiration.

Beyond that, these flowers are representative of several events. They can be used to symbolize the challenges of the Lenten season as well as the new beginnings of the Chinese New Year. 

There are a few negative connotations related to the flower, too. They can signal that a person is overly into themselves, and they can also be considered an egoist’s flower. 

These flowers are usually found in basic shades of white, yellow, and orange. The individual colors do not hold very distinct meanings, but can be connected to anything from purity and rebirth.

Possessing bright, sunny shades, these flowers are charming and encouraging, even in the face of negative events or the long winter season. 

What is the Cultural Significance of a Narcissus?

All flowers have cultural significance and are often used as symbols to convey specific meanings in various cultures and traditions.

In ancient Greece, the narcissus flower was believed to have been originated from the river god Cephissus. According to Greek myth, Narcissus, in profound self-love and admiration, fell in love with his own reflection in the water.

He eventually died and turned into a flower. From then on, the narcissus flower has been associated with self-love and the dangers of obsession with oneself.

Arab traders brought the narcissus flower to Europe in the early 16th century, where it quickly became a national symbol in multiple countries. In Wales, it became the national flower, and its blooming signified the start of the Welsh spring season.

The Narcissus flower’s traditional medicine uses include its therapeutic qualities to boost the immune system, alleviate respiratory problems, and boost heart function.

Besides their Greek traditions, these flowers were regarded by Victorians as a symbol of excessive ego.

The Chinese, as well as other eastern cultures, used the flower to symbolize wealth and prosperity, which is just one reason why the flower is frequently used in holiday celebrations. 

Widely cultivated around the world, the flower is native to the Mediterranean region and is primarily cultivated in The Channel Isles, Holland, and Great Britain. It is the birth flower for the month of December, too.

The Narcissus is often given as a gift to those born in March, too, as it is their birth flower, symbolizing rebirth and rejuvenation. It is also often used as a symbol by cancer charities (such as the American Cancer Council and the American Cancer Society) to signify hope for those living with cancer.

In addition, during Ash Wednesday and Lent, it is often seen as a symbol of resurrection.

What is the Symbolism of a Narcissus Tattoo?

A narcissus tattoo is usually used to symbolize the upcoming year. One of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, the flower, when chosen as a tattoo, can symbolize good fortune and wealth in the upcoming year. 

New Beginnings

Narcissus tattoos have been around for a long time and they are commonly associated with new beginnings and good fortune. It is a popular tattoo design that is especially significant around the New Year, where people look forward to new opportunities and fresh starts.

This flower is one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, and this is why it is associated with good fortune and prosperity in the coming year. The narcissus tattoo, therefore, represents new beginnings, hope, and good luck.


Another symbolism of the narcissus tattoo is beauty. The narcissus flower is a beautiful bloom with a strong scent. It comes in different colors, including white, yellow, and pink. Each color has a different meaning and it is essential to understand the significance before getting a tattoo. For instance, a white narcissus tattoo symbolizes innocence and purity, while a yellow narcissus tattoo symbolizes happiness and joy.


In some cultures, the narcissus tattoo represents the afterlife or a tribute to a loved one who has passed away. This is because the Greek myth of Narcissus tells the story of a man who falls in love with his own reflection and eventually dies. In some cultures, the tattoo is a symbol of immortality, and getting inked with this design is a way to honor those who have passed while looking forward to new beginnings.

The Narcissus tattoo design is also associated with self-love and self-appreciation, based on Greek mythology.

When Should You Give Someone a Narcissus?

The Narcissus flower is the perfect bloom to give in a bouquet or arrangement if you want to help cheer a friend or family member up after a loss. The white petals and yellow center of the Narcissus flower symbolize new beginnings, hope, and renewal. Therefore, Narcissus can be an excellent flower to give to someone who is going through a difficult time and might feel sad or overwhelmed.

They can also be given to remind someone that spring is on their way or to encourage recovery after an illness. Studies have shown that the presence of flowers in a patient’s room can improve their mood, lower their blood pressure, and reduce stress levels. If someone you know has been feeling under the weather or is recovering from an illness, a bouquet of Narcissus flowers could help uplift their spirits.

Narcissus flowers are also suitable for giving during a graduation ceremony or at a baby shower. Graduation marks the end of one phase in life and the start of another.

The Narcissus flower, with its white petals and yellow center, is a perfect representation of a new beginning, making it an ideal gift for anyone who is graduating. Similarly, a Narcissus bouquet makes a great addition to a baby shower, signifying the excitement and anticipation of new life.

Another important occasion where Narcissus flowers come into play is the Chinese New Year and Lent. During these periods, the Narcissus flower is a significant symbol of good luck, health, and prosperity. Chinese people believe that the flower brings good energy and positivity, which is why they are such a popular gift during this time.

Final Thoughts

The Narcissus flower is an all-around symbol of spring, rebirth, happiness, and self-reflection. It’s a revered bloom with many meanings attached to it. Whether you want to celebrate new beginnings, honor the change of seasons, or reflect on your inner self, the Narcissus flower is a highly meaningful way to do so.

Gift it to your loved ones, include it in your garden, or decorate your home with it, and watch how the enchanting Narcissus blooms bring joy and hope into your life.

*Photo by undrey/depositphotos

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