Snake’s Head Fritillary

Snake's Head Fritillary

The Snake’s-Head Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) gets its common name from the delicate chequed pattern which looks like tiny reptile scales.  The nodding cup shaped flowers are said to resemble a fritillus or roman dice box hence the scientific name whilst meleagris relates to the spots of a guinea fowl.

As a native of water meadows I think this winter at Honey Pot Flowers will have suited them down to the ground.  As previously mentioned in our earlier overview of the garden (The Site) we have about one or two feet of top soil sitting on a bed of clay.  The water table is very near the surface for most of the winter with many standing puddles of water even though we are on a slight slope.

Flowering for a relatively short period in the second half of April they are so unique and such a pleasure to see.  They are most successful in the orchard and near the wildlife pond.  The delicate nodding heads also seemed to be absolutely irresistible to the playful young puppy we had staying recently (although he seems to have survived and it is not listed on the HTA list of potentially harmful plants).

Purple and white Snake's Head Fritillary growing amongst the grassland in the fruit orchard.
Purple and white Snake’s Head Fritillary growing amongst the grassland in the fruit orchard.

It is possible to cut Snake’s Head Fritillary for use in spring arrangements but for us the pleasure is seeing them growing naturally in grassland.   They are generally trouble free as long as you don’t cut the grass before the leaves have died back and the bulbs have been replenished.  As a member of the Liliaceae they do seem to get nibbled by lily beetle if you don’t keep an eye on them but the bright red beetles are easy to see and can be picked off by hand.

Family:  Liliaceae

Hardiness:  Full Hardy

Origin:  Europe (southern England to the northern Balkans and western Russia and naturalized in Scandinavia)¹

Height:  30cm

Further Reading

¹ “Bulb” by Anna Pavord (ISBN 978-1-84533-415-4)


Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.


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