People sometimes use the terms daffodil, jonquil, and buttercup interchangeably to refer to the bright yellow blooms gracing the fields and gardens of early spring. However, these popular perennials aren’t the same.

This article will go over the qualities of daffodils, jonquils, and buttercups that give each flower a title of its own. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be able to call each bloom out of a lineup by its correct scientific and common name.

    What’s the Difference Between Daffodils, Jonquils, and Buttercups?

    Comparison Overview

    Daffodils vs. JonquilsBoth flowers are part of the genus narcissus.
    All jonquils are daffodils.
    They are easy to grow and adaptable. 
    Have a corona or cup-shaped center.
    Not all daffodils are jonquils.
    Jonquils are a specific division of the daffodil family.
    Daffodils vs. ButtercupsYellow perennial flowers.
    Easy to grow and adaptable.
    Toxic to humans and animals.
    Not the same family/genus of flower.

    Are Narcissus and Daffodils the Same Thing?

    Before discovering the difference between daffodils and jonquils, you need to familiarize yourself with the flowers’ families.

    Narcissus is a genus of flowering bulbs that bloom from March through May. These perennial flowers are easy to grow and return year after year, making them excellent for novice gardeners. 

    The narcissus is the parent plant of over 50 flower species. Within those species are thousands of flowers.

    According to the American Daffodil Society, “narcissus is the Latin botanical name for all daffodils.” The terms narcissus and daffodil are often used interchangeably, with daffodil as the non-scientific name. 

    In this sense, daffodils and narcissi are the same. However, if you hear someone purposefully use “narcissus” instead of “daffodil,” they probably refer to the Mediterranean paperwhite narcissus. This popular holiday flower can be grown indoors in the fall and winter months.

    What is a Daffodil?

    Some people refer to daffodils as trumpet narcissi because of the flower’s long tube-like bloom. While all members of the narcissus genus are daffodils, the most common daffodil variety is the trumpet-shaped plant popping up at the beginning of spring.

    Daffodils proliferate from bulbs and are adaptable to various environments. The flowers are so popular because of their versatility and ability to stave off hungry animals. Daffodil bulbs are poisonous, so rabbits, deer, and squirrels won’t snack on them.

    Types of Daffodils

    There are 13 divisions of daffodils used to characterize these spring beauties. The species are divided based on cup shape, petal length, and bloom count.

    1Trumpet DaffodilOne bloom per stem
    Corona is longer than the petals
    2Large-Cupped DaffodilCup measures more than one-third of the length of petals
    One flower per stem
    3Small-Cupped DaffodilCup smaller than one-third of the petals’ measurements
    One bloom per stem
    4Double DaffodilBloom is a cluster of cups and petals
    Can be multiple flowers per stem
    5Triandrus DaffodilsBlooms that hang down like bells
    Two or more blooms per stem
    6Cyclamineus DaffodilBloom has a windblown appearance with petals swept backward
    One bloom per stem
    7Jonquilla DaffodilNarrow leaves
    Strong fragrance
    1-3 small, flat-petaled blooms per stem
    8Tazetta DaffodilCluster of three or more florets to a stem
    Thick leaves and stemFragrant blooms
    9Poeticus DaffodilBright, white flowers with small, crinkled cup
    Green center with yellow and red rim
    One bloom per stem
    10Bulbocodium HybridSmall petals with “hoop petticoat” cup
    11Split-Cupped DaffodilCups are split to resemble a second layer of petals
    12Miscellaneous DaffodilQualities don’t fit into other 11 divisions
    Often hybrids
    13Wild HybridWild, naturally growing daffodil variants

    What is a Jonquil?

    Jonquils, scientifically referred to as Narcissus jonquilla, belong to Division 7 of the narcissus family. A rule of thumb to remember is that all jonquils are daffodils, but not all daffodils are jonquils. 

    Some people refer to yellow daffodils as jonquils, but this isn’t always correct. 

    Jonquils are typically characterized by a robust perfumey smell, multiple flowers, and rush-like leaves. In fact, jonquils get their name from the genus Juncaceaewhich includes plants called rushes that have grass-like leaf blades.

    You should plant jonquils in the fall to bloom by late spring. Like other daffodil varieties, jonquils are relatively easy to grow and will come back each year in the right conditions.

    Jonquil Varieties 

    Like the other daffodil divisions, the jonquil has a number of cultivars that have developed over time through selective breeding. 

    While each cultivar’s characteristics vary in some way, they’ve all inherited some or all of the following common jonquil traits:

    • Between 8-18 inches tall
    • Multiple blooms per stem
    • Short cup with ray florets
    • Dark green, rush-like leaves
    • Strong fragrance

    Here are some popular jonquils you might see throughout springtime:

    TrevithianLight yellow fragrant blooms
    2-3 flowers per stem
    Silver SmilesMid-season bloomer
    White petals with a light yellow cup
    SweetnessBold yellow blooms
    Can grow to over a foot tall
    Fragrant early bloomer
    QuailDeep, bronzey blooms
    2-4 flowers per stem
    PuebloWhite petals with a pale yellow cup
    Mid-season bloomer
    PipitFragrant, yellow petals with a pale white cup
    2-3 blooms per stem
    Bell SongMiniature daffodil variety
    2-3 blooms per stemIvory petals with a pale pink or yellow cup
    Baby MoonMiniature daffodil variety
    Fragrant, late-season jonquil
    Deep yellow blooms

    What is a Buttercup?

    The buttercup is a flowering plant member of the Ranunculus genus. Buttercups are sometimes confused with daffodils because of their bright blooms, but they’re different flowers.  

    The buttercup is a herbaceous perennial flower with five separate petals. Buttercups take root during the winter months and blossom in spring, filling fields with lovely, vivid blooms.

    While some gardeners don’t mind these wildflowers popping up in their plant beds, farmers and livestock owners consider the buttercup a pesky, harmful weed. Like daffodils, the buttercup is toxic to animals and can cause internal blisters, diarrhea, and vomiting if consumed.

    Buttercup Varieties

    Buttercups come in many varieties and cultivars, all with different defining characteristics. The blooms are most commonly yellow but can also be orange, pink, red, white, or green, depending on the species.

    The Ranunculus genus has about 300 species of buttercups, so we won’t list them all. However, we’ve listed some common varieties to illustrate how different types of buttercups look and grow.

    Meadow buttercupVivid yellow blooms with five petals
    Bloom from May to October
    Persian buttercupUsed in gardens as perennials
    Wide range of bloom colors, including gold, red, pink, white, and purple
    Bulbous buttercupConsidered a common weed
    Yellow blooms with five petals
    California buttercupDeep yellow flowers with a glossy sheen
    9-17 petals
    Marsh marigoldYellow, five-petaled blooms
    Grow in ponds, swamps, and ditches
    Large scalloped leaves
    Creeping buttercupMost common and familiar form of buttercup
    Bloom between May and August
    Yellow flowers that bloom from long, running stems
    Lesser spearwortGrow in freshwater habitats
    Yellow blooms and spear-like leaves

    Which Flower is the Best Choice for My Garden?


    Daffodil flowers are excellent for homeowners seeking to brighten up their natural areas with little to no effort.

    Daffodils are often naturalized in garden settings. To naturalize a plant means to place the flower bulbs in an informal pattern that appears to have grown naturally. You could start your daffodil patch by throwing a handful of bulbs and planting them where they fall.

    Daffodils are suitable for naturalizing because they come back year after year with little landscaping effort from the gardener. Not only will daffodils return, but their bulbs will split and produce more flowers each spring.

    Plant bulbs in an area with nutritious, well-draining soil and full sun exposure to give them the best chance of naturalization. Then, stand back and watch these harbingers of spring flourish.


    Buttercups are a less popular choice for home gardens because they’re often considered pernicious weeds. According to this weed identification guide, the creeping buttercup variety “depletes potassium in the soil” and “can have a detrimental effect on surrounding plants.” 

    However, some buttercup varieties fare well in gardens and bouquets.

    The Persian buttercup is a garden variety known for its wide range of brilliant colors. These flowers grow well in pots and flower beds with good drainage and a sunny yet cool surrounding climate.

    Plant Hardiness Zones

    If you’re unsure if daffodils, jonquils, and buttercups will thrive in your garden, you can determine your region’s suitability using the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

    This resource helps “gardeners and growers determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location.” It’s handy for homeowners who have moved to a new region or are trying to expand the diversity of their gardens.

    PlantHardiness Zone
    Paperwhite narcissus8-11

    Final Thoughts

    Now that you know the difference between daffodils, jonquils, and buttercups, you can plan your perfect spring garden. 

    You can brighten your kitchen table with a vase of daffodils, which make lovely, long-lasting cut flowers. You can also mix different narcissus bulbs in your natural area and see which beautiful varieties pop up.

    No matter which perennials you like best, you’ll now be able to point them out in any roadside plot, home garden, or rolling meadow.

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    Elisabeth Beauchamp

    Senior Staff Writer

    Elisabeth Beauchamp is a content producer for Today’s Homeowner’s Lawn and Windows categories. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in Journalism and Linguistics. When Elisabeth isn’t writing about flowers, foliage, and fertilizer, she’s researching landscaping trends and current events in the agricultural space. Elisabeth aims to educate and equip readers with the tools they need to create a home they love.

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    Lora Novak

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    Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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