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(Fritillaria meleagris )
"Sullen and foreign-looking, the snaky flower,
Scarfed in dull purple, like Egyptian girls..."
- Vita Sackville-West, "The Land"
Serpentine and glamorous, this dark purple (and sometimes white) wildflower is also known as the "Snake's-head".
Where it grows
Wet meadows, particularly traditional hay meadows that often flooded in winter months.
Best time to see
April and May.
- It is the County Flower of Oxfordshire.
- In the Language of Flowers it symbolises persecution.
How's it doing?
Once thousands filled flooded hay meadows across middle and southern England. However, modern agricultural practices - particularly draining land in order to grow crops - has led to a sharp decline.
3 things you may not know
- Fritillaries were only offically recorded growing in the wild in 1736, so there is some debate as to whether they are native or not.
- Some of the best-known fritillary fields are in Oxfordshire, along the flood-meadows of the Thames including Magdalen Meadow in the heart of the university city.
- Every year Ducklington church in Oxfordshire holds a 'Fritillary Sunday' when the public can walk around a field full of this wildflower.