Why are Narcissus flowers protected by law in Malta?

Narcissus flowers

In Malta, wild Narcissus flowers are protected by law, and it is forbidden to pick up this flower from the wild. The Narcissus is, unfortunately, becoming rarer and has an endangered level in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands since 1989. It is protected therefore by law, schedule VIII of legal notice LN311/2006. But why?

The narcissus flower (fjura tan-narċis in Maltese) grows from a flower bulb. In Malta, it propagates in two main ways.

When a new narcissus flower plant grows from the bulb, this will be a copy of the original, mother plant. This happens through the bulbs themselves, which can divide into different plants.

It will resemble the original plant not only in visual colour and shape but also in any genetic composition or failure of the original plant. Unless the narcissus bulb is removed from the soil, it will continue growing year after year.

Propagation can also happen however through the flowers’ seeds.

When propagating through seeds, the pollinators, such as bees or butterflies will bring about pollen from a different plant or flower.

The new plant might have the ability to be more resistant to diseases or other genetic failures, ensuring it is more robust with a greater ability to survive and propagate even further. The genetic composition of the two flowers that are now mixed will provide a better, stronger plant and flower.

Propagation by pollination also enables the seed to reach larger areas of land and provides the plant with the ability to grow in different areas of the country, for example, thanks to strong winds that carry the seeds. The wider dispersion of seed through wind, birds, insects and more enables a far greater reach than the division of bulbs into further plants.

Malta still has the problem, nonetheless, of continuously smaller areas of natural environments. Another reason why protection of nature needs to be observed at all costs.

The main reason the narcissus flower is therefore protected by law in Malta is to protect the genetic diversity of the plant when propagating by seeds. The plant or flowers were still propagating, but this was happening mostly through bulbs, and there was a risk of Malta ending up with narcissus flowers that were weaker and less resistant to diseases in the long run.

By not picking up flowers, you are providing the flower with the opportunity to grow into a new generation of flowers that are more genetically varied and therefore more resistant.

Of course, this law and protection is also a result of the narcissus flower being picked from the wild in large quantities, not merely a few for personal use.

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