provided by EOL authors
The Snake's head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris), also known as the common fritillary and the guinea-hen flower, is a wildflower occurring from Great Britain to central Russia south to the western Balkans. Its name comes from the Latin word fritillus, meaning "dice box" (which used to be checkered), and meleagris, for the guinea fowl which it resembles. Fritillaria meleagris flowers from late March to April in the UK and April to May in the US, primarily in damp meadows, woodlands and grasslands, its distinctive violet-white checkerboard-patterned flowers hanging like a bell, with one or two flowers per stem. They can also be found as completely white flowers on occasion. Fritillaria meleagris is pollinated by bees, and is also able to self-fertilize. Its flowers contain both male and female reproductive structures (which means it is a hermaphrodite). They are increasingly common in the commercial bulb trade in the United States, and should be planted in the fall for a spring flowering in moist areas of full sun to partial shade (USDA Zones 3-8, may require mulching in Zone 3). The bulbs are small and fairly delicate - handle them with care, and don't eat any, as they are poisonous. They don't last long as cut flowers, so enjoy them where they grow. They will naturalize over time in the right conditions.