A sure cure for spring fever is a trip to Shaw Nature Reserve to see the annual daffodil extravaganza. Thousands of daffodils are already in bloom, and the peak should be coming any day now. The viewing this weekend should be excellent, and will probably be good through next weekend, too, depending on the weather.

Although the 2,400-acre nature reserve usually focuses on native plants, it makes an exception for these non-native springtime beauties. The flowers were originally planted during the late 1920s and early 1930s, shortly after what was then called the Arboretum opened. The daffodils have spread and are now in thick clusters along the one-mile loop road around Pinetum Lake.

You can take a long, meandering hike to get up close and personal with these beauties, or just leave your car in a nearby parking space and enjoy the blooms closest to the pathway. All ages and abilities will be able to soak up the springtime joy of these flowers.

Called by many names, including daffodil, jonquil, narcissus, paper-white or daffadowndilly, these perennial plants belong to the Amaryllis family and are members of the genus Narcissus. They are among the first flowers to bloom each spring.

Their History at Shaw

How did the daffodils come to be at the reserve? John Rowe, an amateur propagator of daffodils who lived and farmed close to Pacific, Mo., brought a bushel of bulbs to the reserve during its early years. Dr. Edgar Anderson, then Curator of Useful Plants at the Missouri Botanical Garden, had the bulbs planted around Pinetum Lake. Today, they are still the core of the naturalized bulb plantings at Shaw, which is a part of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Over the years, additional cultivars and varieties were planted, with the goal being a continuous display of color lasting a full two months, using a mixture of early to late blooming varieties. Since the 1940s, the blubs have been mostly undisturbed and have continued to multiply. Occasionally additional bulbs are planted.

The early varieties are mostly bright yellow with long trumpets, and the later ones are mostly white with flat, wide blossoms.

Dashing for Daffodils

The annual Daffodil Dash, a 5K Trail Run, is scheduled for 9 a.m. April 9. Runners will follow a 3.1-mile course for the pleasure of it; there will be no clock, but the first-place winner will receive a one-year subscription to Trail Runner Magazine. There is a fee to participate; proceeds will benefit Shaw Nature Reserve. For details and how to register, visit www.ShawNature.org and click on the Daffodil Dash icon. The event is sponsored by Mercy.

Hours at Shaw Nature Reserve are from 7 a.m. until 30 minutes past sunset daily. The Visitor Center is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends. The admission fee is $3; $2 for seniors 65 and up; and free for children 12 and under; memberships are available. The Reserve is at the intersection of I-44 and Highway 100 (Exit 253). For more information, visit www.ShawNature.org or call 636-451-3512.

When asked about the peak of the daffodil season, Helen McCallie, who runs the Visitor Center, said, "That's a bit hard to say. With this warm weather, they are moving along very quickly. You will certainly have a nice show this weekend and probably into the next."