The Daffodil of Boo – Boopåsklilja

Narcissus pseudonarcissus var. humilis “Boo”

This particular daffodil’s origins and natural range are in North-western Europe. According to Flora of Great Britain and Ireland, its natural range is on the damp grasslands of Wales and Scotland. The first of the Hamiltons on Boo, field marshal Hugo Johan Hamilton, also had Scottish roots. The species has approximately fifty subspecies and hundreds of variants, one of which is the Boopåsklilja. The species as a whole is very extensive and complex. The specific epithet of the Boopåsklilja (var. humilis “Boo”) was determined by botanists during examination of the plant at Stockholm University in the 1960s.

The Boopåsklilja has some special features. The bulb is among the smallest of the entire species, measuring only 15-20 millimetres in cross sections. Another interesting feature is that the flower has a very light sepal wreath. In 1933, the English botanist Pugsley writes in an article in the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society vol. 58 that the green leaves only reach a width of 6-8 millimetres and a length of approximately 10-25 centimetres. Furthermore, he writes that the corona (the trumpet) is yellow, while the petals are rather whitish. This description fits the Boopåsklilja well. Over the years the species has adapted to severe competition from grass species and other plants. In fertile areas and when lacking competition, these daffodils only develop leaf growth.

For a long time, the wild daffodil species of pseudonarcissus has been cultivated in Sweden and elsewhere. It has cross-bred spontaneously and has been hybridized by cultivators as well. The Boopåsklilja, however, is still only true-breeding and not even spontaneous hybridization has been detected within this variant. It grows at a slow pace and reproduces through production of small bulbils around the bulbs or by means of yielding seed. Through the latter method, it has also been able to expand into the area surrounding Boo cemetery.

Exactly how and when the Boopåsklilja first appeared at Boo is unknown. Nor can we be sure who brought the species here. It is very possible though, that it has been here for 250 years. Following the distribution pattern of the last 50 years at this location, this seems plausible. It is doubtful that this kind of daffodil could be purchased at the local trade market in earlier times. Therefore, it is feasible that the first Hamilton on Boo estate, the field marshal and the Scottish descendant Hugo Johan, had daffodil bulbs brought here from Scotland. He was the one who had the church built, and may have wanted to see the daffodils from his ancestral homeland growing right here at the church of Boo.