Fritillaria meleagris

Whole Plant
Common Name: snake's head fritillary 
Type: Bulb
Family: Liliaceae
Native Range: Western Asia, Europe
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Checkered reddish-brown, purple, white, gray
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Good Cut
Tolerate: Deer, Black Walnut


Easily grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers sun-dappled light shade. Plant bulbs 3” deep and space 3-4” apart in fall. Needs consistent moisture throughout the growing season. Foliage should be allowed to die back naturally (by late spring) as the bulbs go dormant.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Fritillaria meleagris, commonly called checkered lily, is a bulbous perennial that is native to river flood plains in Europe where it is frequently seen growing in large colonies. Plants are somewhat dainty in appearance, featuring solitary (less frequently 2-3), drooping, 2” long, bell-shaped flowers which are checkered and veined with reddish-brown, purple, white and gray atop slender stems growing to 15” tall. Blooms in April. Linear, lance-shaped, grass-like green leaves are widely-spaced on the stems. Also commonly called guinea-hen flower because of the resemblance of the mottled flower color to a guinea hen. In the right environment, it will live long and naturalize well.

Genus name is from the Latin word fritillus meaning dice box in reference to the checkerboard pattern on the petals of Fritillaria meleagris.

Specific epithet means spotted like a guineafowl.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Mass in borders, woodland gardens, rock gardens or naturalized areas.