Snakes-head Fritillary

Snakes Head Fritillary

Snakes-head Fritillary

These flowers remind me of my childhood. They were once common place in water meadows and damp woodlands but intensive arable farming has significantly reduced their natural environment over the last 30 years. They are now considered rare which is a shame because they are beautiful and there is no other flower quite like them.

I’ve always known these flowers as Snakes-head but they have a number of interesting common names including Lazarus Bell or Leper Lily because the flower head resembles the shape of the bell worn by lepers in the Middle Ages. They are also known as Chess Flower and Chequered Lily due to their unusual petal patterns and Frog-cup – I have no idea where that name came from!

Snakes-head bloom in Spring, often around the Easter period.  Ancient folklore explains that the flowers droop because they witnessed Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and hung their heads in sorrow. Within each flower is a bead of nectar said to be an eternal tear.


Fritillaria meleagris


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