Brief Summary

    Fritillaria: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia
    "Fritillary" redirects here. For four genera of butterflies, see Fritillary (disambiguation).

     src= Floral diagram of Fritillaria flower

    Fritillaria (fritillaries) is a genus of spring flowering herbaceous bulbous perennial plants in the lily family (Liliaceae). The type species, Fritillaria meleagris, was first described in Europe in 1571, while other species from the Middle East and Asia were also introduced to Europe at that time. The genus has about 130–140 species divided among eight subgenera. The flowers are usually solitary, nodding and bell-shaped with bulbs that have fleshy scales, resembling those of lilies. They are known for their very large genome size and genetically are very closely related to lilies. They are native to the temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere, from the Mediterranean and North Africa through Eurasia and southwest Asia to western North America. Many are endangered due to enthusiastic picking. The name Fritillaria is thought to refer to the checkered pattern of F. meleagris, resembling a box in which dice were carried. Fritillaries are commercially important in horticulture as ornamental garden plants and also in traditional Chinese medicine, which is also endangering a number of species. Fritillaria flowers have been popular subjects for artists to depict and as emblems of regions and organisations.

    Brief Summary
    provided by EOL authors

    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.

Comprehensive Description

    provided by wikipedia
    "Fritillary" redirects here. For four genera of butterflies, see Fritillary (disambiguation).

    Floral diagram of Fritillaria flower

    Fritillaria (fritillaries) is a genus of spring flowering herbaceous bulbous perennial plants in the lily family (Liliaceae). The type species, Fritillaria meleagris, was first described in Europe in 1571, while other species from the Middle East and Asia were also introduced to Europe at that time. The genus has about 130–140 species divided among eight subgenera. The flowers are usually solitary, nodding and bell-shaped with bulbs that have fleshy scales, resembling those of lilies. They are known for their very large genome size and genetically are very closely related to lilies. They are native to the temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere, from the Mediterranean and North Africa through Eurasia and southwest Asia to western North America. Many are endangered due to enthusiastic picking. The name Fritillaria is thought to refer to the checkered pattern of F. meleagris, resembling a box in which dice were carried. Fritillaries are commercially important in horticulture as ornamental garden plants and also in traditional Chinese medicine, which is also endangering a number of species. Fritillaria flowers have been popular subjects for artists to depict and as emblems of regions and organisations.



    Fritillaria is a genus of herbaceous bulbous perennials.[3] It is characterised by nodding (pendant) flowers, perianths campanulate (bell- or cup-shaped) with erect segments in upper part, a nectarial pit, groove or pouch at the base of the tepal, anthers usually pseudobasifixed, rarely versatile, fruit sometimes winged, embryo minute.[4]

    Flowers often solitary and nodding, but some form umbels or have racemes with many flowers. Perianth campanulate (bell or cup shaped) and its segments usually tesselated with squares of alternating light and dark colours. Nectaries are large and well developed, and in most species (with the exception of Rhinopetalum), are linear to lanceolate or ovate and weakly impressed upon the tepals.

    The bulbs typically consist of a few tightly packed fleshy scales with a translucent tunic that disappears with further growth of the bulb. However, some species have naked bulbs with many scales and loosely attached bulbils, resembling those of the closely related Lilium.[5]

    Certain species have flowers that emit disagreeable odors. The scent of Fritillaria imperialis has been called "rather nasty", while that of F. agrestis, known commonly as stink bells, is reminiscent of canine feces. On the other hand, F. striata has a sweet fragrance.[6]


    Fritillaria represents the most extreme case of genome size expansion in angiosperms. Polyploidy is rare, with nearly all species being diploid and only occasional reports of triploidy.[3] Reported genome size in Fritillaria vary from 1Cx (DNA content of unreplicated haploid chromosome complement) values of 30.15 to 85.38 Gb (Giga base pairs), that is> 190 times that of Arabidopsis thaliana, which has been called the "model plant"[3] and> 860 times that of Genlisea aurea, which represents the smallest land plant genome sequenced to date.[7] Giant genome size is generally defined as>35 pg (34 Gb).[8] The largest genomes in diploid Fritillaria are found in subgenus Japonica, exceeding 85 Gb.[3] At least one species, tetraploid F. assyriaca, has a very large genome. With approximately 127 pg (130 Gb), it was for a long time the largest known genome, exceeding the largest vertebrate animal genome known to date, that of the marbled lungfish (Protopterus aethiopicus), in size.[9] Heterochromatin levels vary by biogeographic region, with very little in Old World and abundant levels in New World species. Most species have a basic chromosome number of x=12, but x=9, 11 and 13 have been reported.[5]




    Gerard (1597) states that Fritillaria was unknown to the ancients,[10] but certainly it was appearing in the writings of sixteenth century European botanists, including Dodoens (1574, 1583),[11][12] Lobelius (1576, 1581),[13][14] and Clusius (1583)[15] in addition to Gerard, and was mentioned by Shakespeare and other authors of the period (see Culture).[16] Species of Fritillaria were known in Persia (Iran) in the sixteenth century, from where they were taken to Turkey. European travelers then brought back specimens together with many other exotic eastern plants to the developing botanical gardens of Europe.[17] By the middle of the sixteenth century there was already a flourishing export trade of various bulbs from Turkey to Europe.[18] In Persia, the first mention in the literature was by Hakim Mo'men Tonekabon in his Tohfe Al-Mo'menin in 1080 AH (ca. 1669 AD), who described the medicinal properties of F. imperialis (laleh sarnegoun).[19]

    European fritillaries had recently been documented in the wild amongst the Loire meadows in 1570 by Noël Capperon,[b] an Orléans apothecary, and which he had mentioned to Clusius in correspondence in 1571, and sent him a specimen of these F. meleagris. He also corresponded with Dodoens.[21] Capperon had suggested the name Fritillaria to Clusius, rather than the vernacular variegated lily (Lilium ou bulbum variegatum). He stated that the flower was known locally as Fritillaria because of a resemblance to the board used in playing checkers.[c] In recognition of this, the botanical authority is sometimes written Fritillaria (Caperon) L.[23][24][20]

    The first account in a botanical text is by Dodoens in his Purgantium (1574)[11] and in more detail in Stirpium (1583).[12] In the Purgantium, Dodoens describes and illustrates F. meleagris as Meleagris flos, without mentioning Capperon.[25] He was also aware, through having been sent a picture, of F. imperialis, and decided to include it as well, without making a connection. His term for F. imperialis was Corona imperialis.[26][23]

    Consequently, Lobelius, in his Plantarum (1576), gives Dodoens the credit for describing F. meleagris. He used the word "Fritillaria" for the first time, describing F. meleagris, which he considered to belong to the Lilio-Narcissus plants, including tulips. The term Lilio-Narcissus refers to an appearance of having lily-like flowers, but a narcissus-like bulb. He called it Fritillaria (synonyms Lilio-Narcissus purpurens variegatus or Meleagris flos Dodonaei).[27] Lobelius also included amongst the lilies, but not as Fritillaria, Corona imperialis which he mentions originated in Turkey and added what he referred to as Lilium persicum (Fritillaria persica).[28] In his later vernacular Kruydtboeck (1581) he described two species he considered related, Fritillaria Lilio-Narcissus purpurens variegatus and Lilio-Narcissus variegatus atropurpureus Xanctonicus. He acknowledged that the plant had originally been found near Orleans and then sent to the Netherlands. Fritillaria is ook een soort van lelie narcis die de oorsprong heeft uit het land van Orléans van waar dat ze gebracht is in Nederland.[d] In his own language he referred to it as Fritillaria of heel bruin gespikkelde Lelie-Narcisse.[e][29][30] He also included Corona imperialis and Lilium persicum as before.[31]

    Dodoens had proposed the name Meleagris flos or Guinea-fowl flower, for what we now know as Fritillaria meleagris, after a resemblance to that bird's spotted plumage, then known as Meleagris avis. In the seventeenth century, John Parkinson provided an account of twelve species of what he referred to as Fritillaria - the checkered daffodil, in his Paradisus (1635), correctly placing it as closest to the lilies. He provides his version of Capperon's discovery, and suggests that some feel he should be honoured with the name Narcissus Caparonium.[32] Often when these exotic new plants entered the English language literature they lacked common names in the language. While Henry Lyte can only describe F. meleagris as Flos meleagris, Fritillaria or lilionarcissus, it appears that it was Shakespeare who applied the common name of "chequered".[33]

    Although Clausius had corresponded with Capperon in 1571, he did not publish his account of European flora (other than Spain) till his Rariorum Pannoniam of 1583, where he gives an account of Capperon’s discovery, noting the names, Fritillaria, Meleagris and Lilium variegatum. However he did not consider F. imperialis or F. persica to be related, calling both of them Lilium, Lilium persicum and Lilium susianum respectively.[15]


    Although the first formal description is attributed to Joseph Pitton de Tournefort in 1694,[34][35] by convention, the first valid formal description is by Linnaeus, in his Species Plantarum (1753),.[1] Therefore, the botanical authority is given as Tourn. ex L..[2] Linnaeus identified five known species of Fritillaria, and grouped them in his Hexandria Monogynia (six stamens+one pistil), his system being based on sexual characteristics. These characteristics defined the core group of the Liliaceae family for a long time. Linnaeus' original species were F. imperialis, F. regia (now Eucomis regia), F. persica, F. pyrenaica and F. meleagris. The Liliaceae family was first described by Michel Adanson in 1763, placing Fritillaria in section Lilia of that family, but also considering Imperialis as a separate genus to Fritillaria, together with five other genera.[36] The formal description of the family is attributed to Antoine Laurent de Jussieu in 1789, who included eight genera, including Imperialis, in his Lilia.[37]

    Although the circumscription of Liliaceae and its subdivisions have undergone considerable revision over the ensuing centuries, the close relationship between Fritillaria and Lilium the type genus of the family, have ensured that the former has remained part of the core group, which constitutes the modern much reduced family. For instance, Bentham and Hooker (1883),[38] placed Fritillaria and Lilium in Liliaceae tribe Tulipeae, together with five other genera.


    Fritillaria is a monophyletic genus, placed within the tribe Lilieae s.s., where it is a sister group to Lilium[5] and the largest member of that tribe.[39] The evolutionary and phylogenetic relationships between the genera currently included in Liliaceae are shown in the following Cladogram:

    Cladogram: Phylogeny and biogeography of the genera of the Liliaceae .mw-parser-output table.clade{border-spacing:0;margin:0;font-size:100%;line-height:100%;border-collapse:separate;width:auto}.mw-parser-output table.clade table.clade{width:100%}.mw-parser-output table.clade td{border:0;padding:0;vertical-align:middle;text-align:center}.mw-parser-output table.clade td.clade-label{width:0.8em;border:0;padding:0 0.2em;vertical-align:bottom;text-align:center}.mw-parser-output table.clade td.clade-slabel{border:0;padding:0 0.2em;vertical-align:top;text-align:center}.mw-parser-output table.clade td.clade-bar{vertical-align:middle;text-align:left;padding:0 0.5em}.mw-parser-output table.clade td.clade-leaf{border:0;padding:0;text-align:left;vertical-align:middle}.mw-parser-output table.clade td.clade-leafR{border:0;padding:0;text-align:right} Liliaceae   West NA  








                  West NA


    Lilioideae* East NA EA Medeoleae East NA  




        Lilieae s.l. EA Tulipeae East Asia    







    Gagea (Lloydia)

          Lilieae s.s. Himalayas  





    Lilium (Nomocharis)



                    Phylogenetic tree reflecting relationships based on molecular phylogenetic evidence.[40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47][5]
    *=Liliaceae sensu Tamura; EA=Eurasia NA=North America

    A large phylogenetic study of Lilium and Fritillaria has shown that Fritillaria consists of two distinct biogeographical clades (A and B), and that these are in a polytomous relationship with Lilium, which could suggest Fritillaria is actually two distinct genera.[3]

    Cladogram of polytomy within Lilieae s.s.[3] Lilieae s.s.







    Fritillaria A


    Fritillaria B



    The large number of species have traditionally been divided into a number of subgroupings.[5] By 1828, Duby in his treatment of the Flora of France, recognized two subgroups, which he called section Meleagris and section Petilium.[48] By 1874, Baker had divided 55 species into ten subgenera:[49]

    In the 1880s, both Bentham and Hooker (1883)[38] and Boissier (1884)[50] independently simplified this by reducing nine of these subgenera to five, which they treated as sections rather than subgenera. Bentham and Hooker, who recognized more than 50 species, transferred the tenth of Baker’s subgenera, Notholirion to Lilium. Boissier, by contrast, in his detailed account of oriental species, recognized Notholirion as a separate genus, whose status has been maintained since (see cladogram). He also divided Eufritillaria into subsections.

    In the post-Darwinian era, Komarov (1935)[51] similarly segregated Rhinopetalum and Korolkowia as separate genera, but Turrill and Sealy (1980)[52] more closely followed Boissier, but further divided Eufritillaria and placed all American species in Liliorhiza. However, the best known and cited of these classification schemes based on plant morphology is that of Martyn Rix,[f] produced by the Fritillaria Group of the Alpine Garden Society[56] in 2001.[57] This listed 165 taxa grouped into 6 subgenera, 130 species, 17 subspecies, and 9 varieties.[58] Rix, who described eight subgenera in all, restored both Rhinopetalum and Korolkowia as subgenera. He also used series to further subdivide subgenera, kept oissier’s four sections, renamed Eufritillaria as Fritillaria, and added subgenera Davidii and Japonica. The largest of these is Fritillaria, while Theresia, Korolkowia and Davidii are monotypic (containing a single species).

    Comparison of Three Subdivisions of Fritillaria1[5] Baker (1874)[49]
    Subgenera Boissier (1882)2[g][50]
    Sections Rix (2001)[53]
    Subgenera Eufritillaria (2) Eufritillaria (30)
    2 subsections Fritillaria
    2 sections Monocodon (24) Goniocarpa (5) Amblirion (9) Rhinopetalum (1) Theresia (2) Rhinopetalum (5) Theresia (3) Theresia (1)3 Petilium (1) Petilium (1) Petilium (4)4 Liliorhiza (3) Liliorhiza
    3 series Korolkowia (1) Korolkowia (1)5 Davidii (1)6 Japonica (5) Notholirion (2) Genus Genus .mw-parser-output .refbegin{font-size:90%;margin-bottom:0.5em}.mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>ul{list-style-type:none;margin-left:0}.mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>ul>li,.mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>dl>dd{margin-left:0;padding-left:3.2em;text-indent:-3.2em;list-style:none}.mw-parser-output .refbegin-100{font-size:100%}

    1. Number of species in (parentheses)
    2. Boissier's Flora orientalis included only oriental species
    3. Theresia: Fritillaria persica[59]
    4. Petilium: F. chitralensis, F. eduardii, F. imperialis and F. raddeana.[60]
    5. Korolkowia: F. sewerzowii

    6. Davidii: F. davidii

    Baker based his classification on the characteristics of the bulb, style, nectary and capsule valves. The large nectaries of Fritillaria have been the focus of much of the morphological classification, while the distinct form of the nectaries in Rhinopetalum were the basis for considering it a separate genus.[5]

    Molecular phylogenetics

    The development of molecular phylogenetics and cladistic analysis has allowed a better understanding of the infrageneric relationships of Fritillaria species. Initial studies showed the major infrageneric split to be by biogeographic region into two clades, North America (clade A) and Eurasia (clade B). Clade A corresponded most closely with subgenus Liliorhiza.[61]

    A subsequent study by Rønsted and colleagues (2005), using an expanded pool of taxa of 37 species including all of Rix’s subgenera and sections, confirmed the initial split on the basis of geography and supported the broad division of the genus into Rix's eight subgenera but not the deeper relationships (sections and series). Clade A corresponds with subgenus Liliorhiza centred in California, but a number of species (F. camschatcensis - Japan and Siberia), F. maximowiczii and F. dagana - Russia) are also found in Western Asia. These Asian species form a grade with the true North American species, suggesting an origin in Asia followed by later dispersal. Of clade B, the Eurasian species, the largest subgenus, Fritillaria, appeared to be polyphyletic in that F. pallidiflora appeared to segregate in subclade B1, with subgenera Petillium, Korolkowia and Theresia while all other species formed a clade within B2.[5]

    The phylogenetic, evolutionary and biogeographical relationships between the subgenera are shown in this cladogram:

    Cladogram of infrageneric phylogeny and subgenera of Fritillaria (Rønsted et al 2005) Fritillaria A: North America


      B: Eurasia  



    Fritillaria 1*












    Fritillaria 2

                * Fritillaria 1 refers to F. pallidiflora, which segregates in B1, thereby making subgenus Fritillaria polyphyletic

    The number of taxa sampled was subsequently enlarged to 92 species (66% of all species), and all species in each subgenus except Rhinopetalum (80%), Liliorhiza and Fritillaria (60%). This expanded study further resolved the evolutionary relationships between the subgenera but also confirmed the polyphyletic nature of subgenus Fritillaria as shown in the following cladogram. The majority of taxa within this subgenus (Fritillaria 2) form a subclade centred in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, but with some species ranging into China. The remainder (Fritillaria 1), being centred in China and Central Asia, but with some species ranging into North and South Asia. This group is therefore probably a separate subgenus.[62][3]

    Cladogram of infrageneric phylogeny and subgenera of Fritillaria with evolutionary and biogeographical relationships (Rønsted et al 2005) and (Day et al 2014) Fritillaria A: N America, NE Asia


      B: Eurasia China


        B1: Central Asia, China
    M East Middle East


      Central Asia, China

    Fritillaria 1

        Middle East


      NW Asia


          B2   NW Asia




        Europe, M East, N Africa

    Fritillaria 2



    Subgenus Liliorhiza (Kellog) Benth. & Hook.f.

    This subgenus of North American Fritillaria, centred on Californis constitutes Clade A and contains more than 20 species. They have distinctive bulbs with several imbricate (overlapping) scales. Their resemblance to the bulbs of Lilium lends this subgenus the name of Liliorhiza, or Liliy-roots. Most species exhibit loosrly attached bulbils, whose size and shape gave them the name of "rice-grain bulbils". These are also seen in subgenus Davidii, but appear to have evolved independently. Stem leaves are whorled.[5][63]

    Subgenus Davidii Rix

    Main article: Fritillaria davidii

    This Chinese subgenus is monotypic for F. davidii. It shares with Liliorhiza the presence of “rice-grain bulbils” but is distinguished from it by only having basal leaves, and no stem leaves.[5]

    Subgenus Petilium (L.) Endl.

    Subgenus Petilium forms a subclade (B1), together with subgenera Korolkowia and Theresia. It is a relatively small subgenus of four species characterized by large (up to 100 cm) sturdy species, with bulbs that are much larger (up to 8 cm) than most Fritillaria with a few large, erect, imbricate and fleshy scales. Flowers are 3–5 in a terminal umbel, in the axils of the lower side of a leaf whorl. They have a trifid (3 lobed) style and winged seeds. The subgenus is found in Turkey, Iraq, Turkestan, Iran, Baluchistan, Afghanistan, and the western Himalayas. The best known example is F. imperialis (crown imperial).[5]

    Subgenus Korolkowia Rix

    Main article: Fritillaria sewerzowii

    Korolkowia is monotypic for F. sewerzowii, a tall sturdy central Asian species, reaching 20–50 cm in height and bearing 8–10 more or less racemose flowers, with a large bulb consisting of a single 3–5 cm scale, and an entire style.[5]

    Subgenus Theresia Koch

    Main article: Fritillaria persica

    Theresia is monotypic for F. persica. This western Asian species, like Korolkowia has a bulb with a single large fleshy scale, second only to F. imperialis in size. It has numerous racemose flowers (over 30) arising from a tall stem which may reach 100 cm. The style is entire.[5]

    Subgenus Rhinopetalum Fisch.

    Rhinopetalum together with subgenera Japonica and Fritillaria constitute subclade B2. It is a small subgenus of five species. They are characterized by their nectaries, which are deeply impressed and have a slit like orifice on the tepals.[5]

    Subgenus Japonica Rix

    Japonica consists of eight species. Rix characterised the subgenus as follows: "Bulb of 2 or 3 solid scales, without rice grains; plants small and delicate; seeds pear-shaped, Erythronium-like, not flat; stem collapsing when seeds are ripe. Japanese woodland plants".

    The species in this subgenus are dwarf fritillaries, endemic to Japan, bearing a single small campanulate flower on a slender stem with three linear verticillate (in one or more whorls) leaves at its top and two broader, oblong to elliptical and opposite leaves about 1 cm below these. The flower is born on a short pedicel amongst the leaves.[5][64]

    Subgenus Fritillaria

    Fritillaria is the largest subgenus, with about 100 species, or more than 70% of the total number of species in the genus, and includes the type species, F. meleagris.[57] They are widely distributed from western Europe and the Mediterranean region to eastern Asia. Their characteristic is the Fritillaria-type bulb. This consists of two fleshy more or less tunicated scales that are subglobose. The tunica is formed by the remains of previous years' scales, but sometimes the previous scales persist leading to more than two scales, sometimes three or four. The style may be trifid or undivided, or only trilobulate at the apex (a characteristic that was previously thought to divide the subgenus into sections).[5]


    There are about 150 taxa (species and subspecies).[65][66] Estimates of the number of species vary from about 100[67] through 130[68]–140.[3] The Plant List (2013) includes 141 accepted species names.[69]

    Biogeography and evolution

    It is likely that two invasions across the Bering Straits to North America took place within the Lileae, one in each genus, Lilium and Fritillaria. Within the Eurasian clade, the two subclades differ in bulb type. In subclade B2 (Fritillaria, Rhinopetalum, and Japonica), the bulb type is described as Fritillaria-type, with 2–3 fleshy scales and the tunica derived from the remnants of previous year's scales. by contrast subclade B2 (Petilium, Theresia and Korolkowia) differ. Those of Theresia and Korolkowia are large, consisting of a single large fleshy scale, while Petilium species have several large erect imbricate scales. In Liliorhiza the bulbs are naked and have nunerous scales similar to Lilium, but with numerous "rice-grain bulbils". The location of the bulbils differ from the more common aerial pattern of arising from within the axil of a leaf or inflorecence, as in Lilium and Allium. Similar bulbils are also found in Davidii. These bulbils arise in the axils of the scale leaves. Bulbils confer an evolutionary advantage in vegetative propagation. [5]


    When Noel Capperon discovered F. meleagris growing in the Loire meadows in 1570, he wrote to Carolus Clusius, describing it, and saying that it was known locally as Fritillaria because the checkered pattern on the flower resembled the board on which checkers was played (Dames in French). Clusius believed this to be an error, in that Fritillus is actually the Latin name for the box in which the dice used in the game were kept,[70] not the board itself.[71][15][72][73] Some North American species are called "mission bells".

    Distribution and habitat

    Fritillaria are distributed in most temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere, from western North America, through Europe, the Mediterranean, Middle East and Central Asia to China and Japan.[3][74][5][75] Centres of diversity include Turkey (39 species)[76] and the Zagros Mountains of Iran (14–15 species).[19][77] Iran is also the centre of diversity of species such as F. imperialis and F. persica.[78] There are five areas of particularly active evolution and clustering of species - California, Mediterranean Greece and Turkey, Anatolia and the Zagros mountains, central Asia from Uzbekistan to western Xinjiang and the eastern Himalayas in southwestern China.[65] Fritillaria species are found in a wide variety of climatic regions and habitats, but about half of them show a preference for full sun in open habitats.[5]

    A number of Fritillaria are widely introduced. Cultivated fritillaries (F. meleagris) have been recorded in British gardens since 1578, but only in the wild since 1736, it is likely to be introduced, rather than be endemic. It is greatly diminished there due to loss of habitat, although persistent along the Thames river in Oxfordshire.[79][80][81] F. imperialis was introduced into Europe around the 1570s around the 1570s, with Ulisse Aldrovandi sending a drawing to Francesco de' Medici in Florence, famed for his gardens at Villa di Pratolino in 1578. His friend Jacopo Ligozzi (1547–1627) was also including it in his paintings, as well as F. persica.[82] In Britain, F. imperialis was first seen in the London garden of James Nasmyth, surgeon to King James I in April 1605.[83]


    The majority of species are spring-flowering. Lily beetles (scarlet lily beetle, Lilioceris lilii and Lilioceris chodjaii)[84] feed on fritillaries, and may become a pest where these plants are grown in gardens or commercially.


    A number of species of Fritillaria are endangered, from over-harvesting, habitat fragmentation, over-grazing and international demand for herbals. These include many species in Greece,[66] and Fritillaria gentneri in the pacific Northwest of North America.[85] In Japan, five of the eight endemic species (subgenus Japonica) are listed as endangered.[64] In China, the collection of Fritillaria bulbs to make traditional medicine, particularly F. cirrhosa from southwest China and the eastern Himalayas of Bhutan and Nepal and one of the most intensively harvested of the alpine medicinal plants, threatens extinction.[3]

    In Iran, F. imperialis and F. persica are endangered and F. imperialis is protected. The genus is threatened by irregular grazing, change in pasture usage, pest (primarily Lilioceris chodjaii)[84] migration from pasture destruction, and harvesting by poor people for sale to florists.[19][78]


    Most fritillaries contain poisonous alkaloids such as imperialin and some may even be deadly if ingested in quantity.


    The bulbs of a few species, such as F. affinis, F. camschatcensis, and F. pudica, are edible if prepared carefully. They were commonly eaten by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest coast of North America.[86] The wild species flowering in areas such as Iran have become important for ecotourism, when in late May people come to the Valley of Roses, near Chelgerd, to see F. imperialis blooming.[87][19] The area is also rich in F. reuteri and F. gibbosa.[88][89]

    Panoramic view of Fritillaria imperialis blooming in the Zagros Mountains in Iran
    F. imperialis blooming in Sepidan, in the Zagros Mountains, Iran

    because of their large genome size, Fritillaria species are an important source for genomic studies of the proceeses involved in genome size diversity and evolution. They also have important commercial value both in horticulture and traditional medicine.[3]


    Species of Fritillaria are becoming increasingly popular as ornamental garden plants, and many species and cultivars are commercially available. They are usually grown from dormant bulbs planted in Autumn. As perennials they repeat flower every year, and some species will increase naturally. While Fritillaria is mainly harvested from the wild fields for commercial use, the growing price of the herbal product results in over-exploitation and puts the species at risk of depletion.[90]

    The following may be found in cultivation:-

    Traditional medicine

    Species of Fritillaria have been used in traditional medicine in China for over 2,000 years, and are one of the most widely used medicines today. The production of medicines from F. cirrhosa is worth US $400 million per annum. Although some are cultivated for this purpose, most are gathered in the wild. In recent years demand has increased leading to over-harvesting of wild populations. In addition to China, Fritillaria products are used medicinally in the Himalayas, including India, Nepal and Pakistan, as well as Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia. To meet the demand additional countries such as Turkey and Burma are involved in the collection. The products are used mainly as antitussives, expectorants, and antihypertensives. The active ingredients are thought to be isosteroidal and steroidal alkaloid compounds. Chinese sources suggest 16 species as source material, but this may be an overestimate due to the large number of synonyms in Chinese. Of these, 15 are in subgenus Fritillaria (both subclades), but one (F. anhuiensis) is in subgenus Liliorhiza.[3][58][90] F. imperialis also has a long history of medicinal usage in China and Iran.[19]

    Group of died bulbs of Fritillaria cirrhosa being prepared for making traditional medicine
    Dried bulbs of F. cirrhosa

    Fritillaria extracts (fritillaria in English, bulbus fritillariae cirrhosae in Latin)[91] are used in traditional Chinese medicine under the name chuan bei mu (literally "Shell mother from Sichuan",[91] or just beimu). Species such as F. cirrhosa and F. verticillata are used in cough remedies.[92] They are listed as chuān bèi (Chinese: 川貝/川贝) or zhè bèi (Chinese: 浙貝/浙贝), respectively, and are often in formulations combined with extracts of loquat (Eriobotrya japonica). Fritillaria verticillata bulbs are also traded as bèi mǔ or, in Kampō, baimo (Chinese/Kanji: 貝母, Katakana: バイモ). In one study fritillaria reduced airway inflammation by suppressing cytokines, histamines, and other compounds of inflammatory response.[93][90]

    Popular culture

    Shakespeare, Matthew Arnold and George Herbert and more recently Vita Sackville-West (The Land 1927) wrote romantically about fritillaries.[16][71][80] Fritillaries were also a favourite of the Dutch flower painters that emerged around 1600, such as Ambrosius Bosschaert[94] and Jacob de Gheyn II,[95] and appeared in Italian art, such as that of Jacopo Ligozzi in the late sixteenth century.[82]

    Fritillaries are commonly used as floral emblems. F. meleagris (snake's head fritillary) is the county flower of Oxfordshire, UK, and the provincial flower of Uppland, Sweden, where it is known as kungsängslilja ("Kungsängen lily").[30] In Germany, F. meleagris appears as a heraldic device in a number of municipalities, such as Hetlingen, Seestermühe and Winseldorf, and also in Austria (Großsteinbach). In Croatia this species is known as kockavica, and the checkerboard pattern of its flowers may have inspired the šahovnica pattern on the nation's coat of arms. F. camschatcensis (Kamchatka fritillary) is the floral emblem of Ishikawa Prefecture and Obihiro City in Japan. Its Japanese name is kuroyuri (クロユリ), meaning "dark lily". Fritillaria montana is the floral emblem of Giardino Botanico Alpino di Pietra Corva, a botanical garden in Italy.[96]

    See also


    1. ^ Tozzettia, illegitimate homonym not Savi 1799 (Poaceae)
    2. ^ Noel Capperon (Natalis Caperon), was one of the victims of the St Bartholomew's Day massacre of Hugenots in Orleans in 1572. Although not formally trained in botany, he had an international reputation. In the late 1560s, Thomas Penny, the English naturalist, came to visit him and study plant physiology.[20]
    3. ^ Letter from Capperon to Clusius, December 12, 1571: fritillaria ainsi appelions nous la plante que vous demandez pour ce les merques ou taches rouges et blanches sont que cees et posees en ordre comme sont celles de noz damiers et eschiquers aucunes pour ceste raison mesme luy donnent ces noms comme pyrgoides ou rhomboydes. Latruncularium.[22] Dames is the French word for Checkers or Draughts
    4. ^ Lobelius: Fritillaria is also a type of lily narcissus that originates from the land of Orléans from where it was brought to the Netherlands
    5. ^ Fritillaria, or the very brown speckled lily-narcissus
    6. ^ Martyn Rix's PhD thesis at Cambridge University was on Fritillaria,[53][54] and he is the botanical authority for 30 species of Fritillaria[55]
    7. ^ Boissier: Oriental species only, Lilorhiza excluded


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