Pancratium maritimum, also known as sea daffodil, can be found on many beaches around Corfu from July to October. In recent years, the population has reduced and the daffodil is now protected by Greek legislation.
The name pancratium is derived from Greek and means "all-strength", maritimum means "of the sea" and refers to the plants' strength to grow in dry, sandy areas.
The sea daffodil has a large bulb buried deep underground and because it grows in sand, it is easy for the shoots to make their way up. It has a long stem with broad green leaves although the leaves often die back during the hotter weather. The white flowers are funnel-shaped with a delicate fragrance which is best enjoyed on still warm evenings. It said that the perfume can become so strong, it keeps the sheep off the beaches.
It is also believed that this plant was given to Odysseus by Hermes to protect him against magic spells. Odysseus is best known as the hero of the Odyssey. This epic details his travels which lasted for 10 years, as he tries to return home after the Trojan War and reassert his place as the rightful king of Ithaca. During this time he visits the witch-goddess Circe. She turns half of his men into swine after feeding them wine and cheese. Hermes (great-grandfather of Odysseus and an Olympian god) warns Odysseus about Circe and gives him the flower, which aids him in resisting Circe’s magic.
The sea daffodil is pollinated by the hummingbird hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) which is very distinctive, with its long proboscis with which it collects the nectar of the flower whilst still in flight.
The sea daffodil can be found on many beaches on Corfu but some of the best ones we have seen are at Chalikounas beach, Glyfada beach,
Kontogialos beach, San Spyridon beach, San Stefano beach (North), Acharavi beach and San George beach (North).