Last modified on 11 October 2008, at 03:05

Fritillaria meleagris

Fritillaria meleagris
Fritillaria meleagris

Snake's Head
Fritillaria meleagris (snakeshead fritillary).jpg
Binomial: Fritillaria meleagris
Family: Liliaceae

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Fritillaria meleagris, commonly known as the Snake's Head (the original English name), and also the Snake's Head Fritillary, Leper Lily, Guinea-hen Flower, and Checkered Daffodil) is a Fritillary, a flower from the family Liliaceae.

The flower has a checkered reddish-brown, purple, white and gray coloration, sometimes mostly white. It flowers from March to May and grows between 15 and 40 cm in height. It has a round bulb, about 2cm in diameter which contains poisonous alkaloids.

The plant is commonly found growing in grasslands in damp soils and river meadows. It can be found at altitudes up to 800 metres.

It is native to Europe, but in many places, including France, Slovenia and Romania it is an endangered species that is rarely found in the wild, but is common in horticulturists' gardens. In Croatia the flower is known as Kockavica and is part of the country's national symbol. It is the only species of Fritillary native to Britain, growing in traditional grass meadows. Due to changing land usage, it is now quite rare in the wild. The Meadow of Magdalen College, Oxford, the village of Ducklington, Oxfordshire (which holds a Fritillary Sunday festival), and the North Meadow National Nature Reserve, Wiltshire are some of the best locations to view this flower.

The Leper Lily is the official flower of the Swedish province of Uppland, where it grows in large quantities every spring at the meadows in Kungsängen, just outside Uppsala, also giving the flower its Swedish name, kungsängslilja.