There are literally thousands of daffodils blooming around the Shaw Nature Reserve's Pinetum Lake and the one-mile road encircling it beginning in late March/early April each year. Although known by many names (daffodil, jonquil, narcissus, paper-whites), all are members of the genus Narcissus. Many varieties of daffodils have been accumulating around the Pinetum Lake for the biggest part of the 79 years the Reserve has been in existence.
Daffodils got their start at the Nature Reserve through the efforts of Mr. John Howe who lived and farmed close to the town of Pacific, Missouri. He was an amateur propagator of daffodils as well as of nuts, fruits, vegetables, and other flowering bulbs. Mr. Howe brought a bushel of daffodil bulbs to the Reserve to share during its fledgling years when the earliest planting was being done. Upon seeing Mr. Rowe's basket of bulbs, Dr. Edgar Anderson, then Curator of Useful Plants at Missouri Botanical Garden, wanted to know who produced these masterpieces of horticulture.
Dr. Anderson had the bulbs planted around Pinetum Lake where they are still the core of the naturalized bulb plantings at Shaw Nature Reserve. Although John Howe was an amateur gardener without formal horticultural training, learned gardeners, botanists, and directors of famous botanical institutions contacted him to see his collections and to ask his advice.
Dr. Anderson was especially fond of daffodils and devoted much time and energy to both the Missouri Botanical Garden's and the Shaw Nature Reserve's collections. Fortunately he had plenty of daffodils to work with. At regular intervals after Mr. Howe's bulbs were first put in place, many additional cultivars and varieties of narcissus were planted at Shaw Nature Reserve. The plantings were carefully studied, especially during the period 1938 and 1942. The goal was to have a continuous display of color lasting for a full two months using a mixture of early to late blooming varieties.
The early varieties tend to be bright yellow with long trumpets, while the later ones are white, with wide, flat blossoms. In subsequent years the daffodils at Shaw Nature Reserve have been, for the most part, undisturbed and have continued to multiply. Additional bulbs are periodically planted adding to the already extensive collection.