Fritillaria meleagris (snake’s head fritillary)
Fritillaria meleagris at Kew
Fritillaria meleagris L.
snake’s head fritillary, guinea-hen flower, chequer lily, checkered daffodil, chess flower, leper lily, Lazarus bells
From open woods and grassy places, usually on floodplains, to alpine pastures.
The bulb is poisonous.
About this species
Fritillaria meleagris was named by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753. The generic name Fritillaria comes from the Latin word fritillus, meaning dice box (which were formerly chequered), in reference to the chequered markings on the flowers. The specific epithet meleagris likens it to a 'spotted guinea fowl'. Fritillaria meleagris is commonly found in damp grassland and meadows subject to winter flooding. A reduction of the habitats favoured by snake’s head fritillary (for example, due to the conversion of grassland to arable use, and by ‘improving’ grassland through fertilisation) has resulted in the species becoming infrequent in the wild. The native status of F. meleagris in Britain has been the subject of much debate. It was first recorded in the wild there only in 1736 and it has therefore been suggested that it is likely to be a neophyte (recently introduced species).