Nature Notes

Snakes Head Fritillaries

The Snakes Head Fritillaries pictured below were growing in the damp and shady part of my garden. They gave a poor display following the year that I planted them in 2009, but this year they have done much better, and although I would have preferred more flowers I must not complain. Emerging from a small round bulb the plant attains a height of about 30 cm. and it's flowers can be as much as 2.5 cm in diameter and the leaves are thin, pointed, and straplike. Sometimes creamy white flowers are produced and a faint chequered pattern can just be discerned on them, whereas the other variation consists of browny-pink and purple markings. The plant is sometimes called Chess Flower or Chequered Daffodil, and within the flowers are bright yellow stamens. They are becoming increasingly rare in the wild, although a few prime sites to see a good display in April are the Magdalen College meadow in Oxford and in the village of Ducklington, also in the county of Oxford. In fact the county flower of Oxford is the Snakes Head Fritillary.

Meanwhile, as I write this, the specimens in my garden have now just about finished for this year, but given the comparative rarity of them I shall treasure and look forward to seeing my Snakes Heads announce the start of Spring 2012.

Snakes-Head Fritillaries