The Q&A Archives: Differences between Fritillaria Meleagris

Question: Your 1997 bulb sale catalog mentions seemingly two types of Fritillaria. I only know of one. What is the difference between the regular Fritillaria that grows to about 3 to 4' high and Fritillaria meleagris which grow to 12" high? Do they have the same crown of flowers? Thank you. Sally Santiago North Bend, WA

Answer: Fritillaria meleagris, also called guinea hen flower, checkered-lily, or snake's head, has one to three squarish, bell-shaped blooms up to 2 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide. Typically they are checkered with maroon red or purple against a lighter background. It is quite airy in habit, with few strap-like leaves. Fritillaria imperialis, or crown imperial, is a majestic plant growing up to 4 feet tall with clusters of flowers that form just below a terminal crown of leaves. The fritillaria described above lacks that crown of leaves and is, of course, much smaller.

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