Fritillaria Meleagris

This plant is more commonly known as the Checkered Lily, since it has a marked check pattern all over the blossom. Checkered Lilies are usually some shade of purple, but always with the pronounced checkered pattern; even the white form 'Alba' has a faint check pattern like a watermark.

This plant is native to damp meadows and flood plains in Europe, where it can sometimes be found in large colonies. In Croatia the flower is known as kockavica; the checkerboard pattern on Croatia's coat of arms is sometimes said to derive from the appearance of this local flower.

The drooping, unopened bud of a single flower strongly resembles a cobra's striking pose. For this reason it is also known as the Snake's-head Fritillary. It provides a unique look, especially combined with other spring flowers in contrasting colours.

Since they grow natively in moist soil, Checkered Lilies should be planted in an area where the soil does not completely dry out between waterings, for example: under shrubs or trees, where they receive light, sun-dappled shade. In the right environment, they will live long and naturalize well. They attract butterflies, and are outstanding in dried flower arrangements.

Flowering time:Mid-spring
Plant height: 6 - 16 " (15 - 40cm)
Minimum planting depth:3" (8 cm)
Hardiness zones:Suitable for zones 3 to 4 with mulch, 5 to 8 without mulch.
Colours: Reddish-brown, purple, pink, white
Shape/form: One (occasionally 2 - 3) drooping, bell-shaped flower(s), which are checkered and veined with reddish-brown, purple, white and gray; blossoms grow on slender, drooping stems; narrow, grass-like green leaves are widely-spaced on the stems.
Alternate names:Snake's-head Fritillary, Guinea Hen Flower, Checkered Lily, Snakehead Lily, Leper Lily
Latin name: Fritillaria meleagris
Notes: Look best massed in borders, woodland gardens, rock gardens or naturalized areas.
Note: try to plant bulbs into the ground as early as possible in the fall, as they can dry out easily.
Warning: the bulb is poisonous.
Example varieties: Alba (white), Charon (very dark crimson), Saturnus (reddish-purple)

Charon Alba

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Fritillaria imperialis: Crown Imperial | Fritillaria meleagris: Checkered Lily | Fritillaria persica: Persian Bells

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Last modified: October 12, 2008