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Fritillaria montana
Scientific classification

100-130, see text

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Fritillaria montana
Scientific classification

100-130, see text

Fritillaria is a genus of about 100[1] to 130[2] species of bulbous plants in the family Liliaceae, native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, especially the Mediterranean, southwest Asia, and western North America.[3] The name is derived from the Latin term for a dice-box (fritillus),[4] and probably refers to the checkered pattern of the flowers of many species. Plants of the genus are known in English as fritillaries. Some North American species are called mission bells.


Fritillaria crassifolia showing the characteristic features of most fritillaries: nodding flowers with some amount of brown and a checkerboard pattern

Fritillaries often have nodding, bell- or cup-shaped flowers, and the majority are spring-flowering. 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 dog droppings.[5] On the other hand, F. striata has a sweet fragrance.[5]


Fritillaria extracts are used in traditional Chinese medicine under the name chuan bei mu, and in Latin, bulbus fritillariae cirrhosae. Species such as F. cirrhosa and F. verticillata are used in cough remedies. They are listed as chuān bèi (Chinese: 川貝) or zhè bèi (Chinese: 浙貝), respectively, and are often in formulations combined with extracts of loquat (Eriobotrya japonica). F. 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.[6]

Most fritillaries contain poisonous alkaloids such as imperialin; some may even be deadly if ingested in quantity. But 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.[7]

At least one species, F. assyrica, has a very large genome. With approximately 130,000,000,000 base pairs, it equals the largest known vertebrate animal genome known to date, that of the marbled lungfish (Protopterus aethiopicus), in size.

The emblematic and often unusually-colored 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"). 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". F. tenella is the floral emblem of Giardino Botanico Alpino di Pietra Corva, a botanical garden in Italy.


The scarlet lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii) eats fritillaries, and may become a pest where these plants are grown in gardens.

Selected species[edit]

Fritillaria involucrata
Fritillaria lusitanica
Fritillaria rhodia
Fritillaria sewerzowii
Fritillaria tubiformis
  • Fritillaria acmopetala – Lebanese fritillary
  • Fritillaria affinis – checker lily, chocolate lily
  • Fritillaria agrestis – stinkbells
  • Fritillaria anhuiensis S.C.Chen & S.F.Yin
  • Fritillaria armena Boiss.
  • Fritillaria assyriaca
  • Fritillaria atropurpurea – purple fritillary, spotted fritillary, spotted mountainbells, spotted missionbells
  • Fritillaria biflora – chocolate lily
  • Fritillaria brandegei Eastw.
  • Fritillaria camschatcensis – Kamchatka fritillary, rice lily, skunk lily, outhouse lily, dirty diaper, chocolate lily, Indian rice
  • Fritillaria caucasica Adams
  • Fritillaria cirrhosa D.Don
  • Fritillaria conica Boiss.
  • Fritillaria crassicaulis S.C.Chen
  • Fritillaria crassifolia Boiss. & A. Huet
  • Fritillaria dagana Turcz. ex Trautv.
  • Fritillaria dajinensis S.C.Chen
  • Fritillaria davidii Franch.
  • Fritillaria davisii Turrill
  • Fritillaria delavayi Franch.
  • Fritillaria drenovskii Degen & Stoj.
  • Fritillaria dzhabavae A.P.Khokhr.
  • Fritillaria eastwoodiae – Butte County fritillary, Eastwood's ritillary
  • Fritillaria eduardii Regel
  • Fritillaria ehrhartii Boiss. & Orph.
  • Fritillaria elwesii
  • Fritillaria epirotica Turrill ex Rix
  • Fritillaria euboeica Rix
  • Fritillaria falcata – talus fritillary
  • Fritillaria fusca Turrill
  • Fritillaria gentneri – Gentner's fritillary
  • Fritillaria gibbosa Boiss.
  • Fritillaria glauca – Siskiyou fritillary, Siskiyou missionbells
  • Fritillaria graeca
  • Fritillaria grandiflora Grossh.
  • Fritillaria grayana Reichenb.f. & Baker
  • Fritillaria gussichiae (Degen & Dörfl.) Rix
  • Fritillaria hispanica
  • Fritillaria imperialis – kaiser's crown, crown imperial
  • Fritillaria involucrata All.
  • Fritillaria karelinii Fischer ex D.Don
  • Fritillaria kotschyana Herb.
  • Fritillaria kurdica Boiss. & Noë
  • Fritillaria latifolia Willd.
  • Fritillaria liliacea – fragrant fritillary
  • Fritillaria lusitanica Wikstr.
  • Fritillaria lutea Mill.
  • Fritillaria macedonica Bornm.
  • Fritillaria maximowiczii Freyn

Formerly placed here:


  1. ^ Flora of North America: Fritillaria
  2. ^ Flora of China: Fritillaria
  3. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964. 
  4. ^ Shorter Oxford English dictionary, 6th ed. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. 2007. p. 3804. ISBN 0199206872. 
  5. ^ a b McGary, J. Fritillaria and the Pacific Garden. Pacific Horticulture 73(2). April, 2012.
  6. ^ Yeum, H. S., et al. (2007). Fritillaria cirrhosa, Anemarrhena asphodeloides, lee‐mo‐tang and cyclosporine a inhibit ovalbumin‐induced eosinophil accumulation and Th2‐mediated bronchial hyperresponsiveness in a murine model of asthma. Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology 100(3) 205-13.
  7. ^ Turner, Nancy; Harriet V. Kuhnlein (1983). "Camas (Camassia spp.) and riceroot (Fritillaria spp.): two Liliaceous "root" foods of the Northwest Coast Indians". Ecology of Food and Nutrition 13: 199–219. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 

External links[edit]