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Snake's head fritillary Fritillaria meleagris

Snake's head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris), is the only British native fritillary, but is now rarely seen in the wild.

The generic name Fritillaria comes from the Latin word fritillus, meaning "dice box" (which were formerly chequered). The specific name 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 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.

Flowering in late March through to April to a height of upto 40 cm, these delicate flowers are about 2 cm across.The bell-shaped flowers are either white or purple and have a chequered pattern. The flowers are hermaphrodite (having both male and female organs) and are pollinated by bees. The plant is also capable of self-fertilisation.

Fritillaria meleagris is the County Flower of Oxfordshire.

You can adopt a seed from this species for £250. Your donation will be used towards the work of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, ensuring this species is kept safe in the vaults forever, and to collect more species in the future.

In addition to receiving your adoption pack featuring your certificate and photograph of the species (this will be posted to you, or the recipient), you will be invited to the County Flower sponsor's event at the Millennium Seed Bank, Wakehurst where you can meet the staff and see the vaults where your species is stored.

If you have any questions, please contact Jill Taylor on 020 8332 3248 or email j.taylor@kew.org.

 

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