Family: Liliaceae
Common Name: Fritillary

The name of this genus of bulbous plants from Western Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia and North America derives from Latin fritillus, meaning 'dice-box', as the checkered patterns on some of the species resemble the checker-boards associated with dice games. Few species are in general cultivation and these are found only in cooler climates. Few consider fritillaries beautiful but they are fascinating. Some species smell unpleasant. These plants, especially the crown imperial, are outstanding in a mixed bulb garden or with mixed perennials or annu­als. They should be grouped to gain the best effect. The flowers are produced in spring or early summer, depending on species.


The best known species is the spectacu­lar crown imperial, F. imperialis, zone 4, with a cluster of orange, yellow or red, bell-shaped flowers hanging below a crown of green leaves, on stems 50-90 cm (20-36 in) high.

F. melea­gris, snake's head fritillary, zone 4, occurs in meadows throughout England and Europe and is easy to cultivate. The checkered flowers are purple or pink-purple.

F. pallidiflora, zone 3, grows about 40 cm (16 in) high and has creamy flowers with a green base.

F. pudica, yellow frit­illary, zone 3, is a small grower, to about 15 cm (6 in), from western North America. The flow­ers can be flushed with red or orange.


Requirements differ according to species, but the easier and more popular species are best planted in fertile, well-drained yet moisture-retentive soil, and in sun. Small species can he planted on a rock garden, taller species in a mixed or shrub border. Propagation is from seed sown in autumn and germinated in a garden frame. Allow them to freeze over winter or remove offsets from mature bulbs.


There are species suited to various climatic zones.

Freycinetia      Fuchsia