Fritillaria belongs to the family of Liliaceae. The name is derived from Latin term, dice-box which refers to the checkered pattern, seen commonly in the flowers of this species, blooming at the early spring. They are usually bell-shaped flowers and they are quite larger for the plants. But most flowers bear a disagreeable scent like feces of wet fur. They look like guinea hen and hence they are commonly known as the Guinea Hen Flowers. Snake head, Checkered Lily, Sullen Lady, and Leper’s Bell are some other common names which refer Fritillaria. Some flowers before the blossom, before the bud is fully opened, reminds a cobra and therefore they are known as snake head. The checkers which can be said as the specialty of these flowers resembles patterning of Guinea hens. Most fritillaries are poisonous; some may even be deadly if ingested in quantity. It is widely used in Chinese medicines. Due to its beauty, most of the flowers are used for floral emblems. In Croatia, it a part of the country’s national symbol. There are about a hundred species of bulbous plants in their family.


Fritillarias are very easily grown flowering bulbs as the bulbs multiply every year. They always prefer a well-drained, loamy soil, though most garden soil would do. Fritillarias propagates by the division of bulbs in the autumn. The bulbs have to be divided in the autumn and have to be replanted immediately. Their offshoots are used widely to propagate these plants. Fritillaria tolerates full sun exposure or part shade, though a lightly shaded and sheltered area, suits perfectly for growing Fritillarias. Care has to be taken to see that, the bulbs are planted 4 to 5 inches deep and 6 inches apart at a slight angle, since water would not collect in the depression at the top of the bulb. It has to be kept in mind that the Fritillarias bloom with tulips.


They comparatively care free. They do not demand much care. Therefore the propagation of Fritillaria is so simple. The head of the flowers must be removed after the blooms fade and before it goes to seed. It is good to choose Fritillarias for areas with dry summers. They do well in temperate Asia, North America, Europe and North Africa around the Mediterranean. The foliage must be allowed to wither naturally. This is done to replenish the bulbs for consecutive blooms in the following years. The plants must water regularly and deeply in the spring till it flowers. Then, it is good to withhold the water in the summer. They are in serious need of fertilizers to get them re-blooming in the following years after they have bloomed. It is good to see to that, no summer watering is provided.


The Fritillarias mostly bear pendant flowers. They have attractive markings, though they are not brilliantly colored. There are lots of species under Fritillaria, used for various purposes. Fritillaria acmopetala, commonly known as Lebanese Fritillary, Fritillaria affinis, commonly known as Checker lily, Fritillaria agrestis, known as Stinkbells commonly, Fritillaria anhuiensis, Fritillaria armena, Fritillaria biflora, the chocolate lily, Fritillaria eastwoodiae, Fritillaria falcate, Fritillaria gentneri, Fritillaria orientalis, Fritillaria pallidiflora, Fritillaria persica, Fritillaria plurifola, the adobe lily are some of the important selected species of the genus. The Fritillaria camschatcensis is commonly known as the Kamchatka Fritillary, Kamtcha lily, Rice lily, Skunk lily. Some of them possess remarkable features. For example, Fritillaria assyrica has a very large genome, with about one hundred and thirty billion base pairs. Many of these flowers are also used as floral emblems. For example Fritillaria meleagris, commonly known as the Snake’s head fritillary is the county flower of Oxfordshire, UK.

Disease and Cure

The Fritillaria is not prone to pests and diseases, usually. Therefore they do not need a special care. They often have nodding flowers and majority of them are spring flowering. The Scarlet Lily Beetle is a notable problem to fritillaries. They usually come to eat fritillaries and may become a pest, at the gardens of fritillaries. Though, they do not demand much care, it is good to use a normal and recommended dosage of pesticides. Pests can also be controlled by using natural method such as developing a balanced eco-system and encouraging frogs by building ponds. Even though, fritillaries are not affected by disease often, necessary measures must be taken for better results.

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