Traipse the woods and old fields of the Carolina Piedmont in the month of March, and you will likely discover a lonesome cluster of daffodils randomly sited off the path. Those who work with historic buildings in the region recognize these flowers as reliable signs of settlement that might stretch 100 years or more into the past. Often, the daffodils are all that remain of an old homestead that has long since been reclaimed by the elements.
Daffodils are a hardy member of the Narcissus genus of flowering bulbs. Also called jonquils here in the South, daffodils were a flower of choice for early settlers, who shared the bulbs among family and friends to embellish their yards and walkways.
A popular type of daffodil that is found around old home-sites here in Guilford County is “Butter and Eggs”, a scruffy looking yellow flower (image, upper right) that rises approximately five to ten inches above the ground. Whether it is truly the Butter and Eggs variety can be determined by aficionados, but the locals still link the name to the type.
Other refined kinds of very early daffodils can be found throughout Guilford County, including more distinct flowers (image, lower right). Daffodils are just one sign of an abandoned home-site. Other markers can include periwinkle (also indicative of cemeteries!), boxwood, daylillies, and ivy.
Enjoying our warm spring with woodland walkabout? Keep an eye open for the signs of prior times, and sites long lost.