Fritillaria meleagris

Plant of the month: April

Fritillaria Meleagris - Snake heads fritillary

Also Known As: Snake heads fritillary

Native To: Southern England to North Balkans and Western Russia

Blooms: April to May

Habitat: Tends to be found growing in damp meadows and river flood plains

Where Found At BBG: Azalea Walk and Rock Garden


More commonly known as the ‘snake’s head fritillary’ due the shape of the flowers, which hang down, and also its checkerboard markings, that look almost like snake skin. The flowers are a pinkish purple in colour but there are also pure white forms. A mixture of the two makes for a breathing taking display.


In the south of England you can find Fritillaria meleagris growing in moist meadows and on flood plains of major rivers and for that reason it is perfect for naturalizing in grass. Once this bulbous perennial is happy, it will happily seed around the garden. It also has the RHS award of garden merit, which confirms how easy it is to grow.


Fritillaria are a member of the lily family (Liliaceae), and for that reason you must monitor them regular if you are growing other Lilies nearby. Lily beetles can be often found eating the foliage of this plant and often lay their eggs which are small and red. They often use fritillary as a food source before moving on to your ornamental lilies as they appear above the ground. The best thing to do in this situation is to look out for the bright red beetles, catch them and dispose of them whichever way you see fit to avoid them ruining your ornamental lilies later on in the season