Fritillaria is a genus in the Liliaceae family distributed throughout Europe and North Africa (especially around the Mediterranean), temperate Asia and North America. Most of them have pendant flowers but many of these are not brilliantly colored although they may have attractive markings. Some of the species have a "foxy" odor.
The name of the genus is said to come from the latin fritillus or dice box. Many of the species have spotted or checked flowers. Fritillary or fritillaries is also a common name for butterflies in the family Nymphalidae, again deriving from their patterned wings. John Gerrard, page 123, in his book The Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes published in 1597, says the name may derive from the tables at which chess or dice was played frittillo.