(Fritillaria meleagris )
The chequered purple bells of this attractive wildflower nod on snaky stalks.
It was once a remarkably widespread plant, filling flooded hay meadows in their thousands across middle and southern England. However, modern agricultural practices - particularly draining land in order to grow crops - has led to a sharp decline.
Despite its previous pervasiveness, it is not clear if the fritillary is a native plant or not: it isn't offically recorded growing in the wild in the UK until 1736. Whether it was introduced by the Romans, an escapee from Tudor gardens or an indigenous flower that went unnoticed, its origins are still discussed today.
County flower of Oxfordshire.
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. It can grow between 15 and 40 cm in height.
Wet meadows, particularly traditional hay meadows that often flooded in winter months.
Best time to see
Fritillaries tradtionally flower between April and May.
Did you know?
Every year Ducklington church in Oxfordshire holds a 'Fritillary Sunday'. The wildflower grows in abundance in a nearby meadow - one of the few areas in the UK it does.
On Fritillary Sunday this field is opened to the public and visitors can walk among the bobbing blooms of this beautiful flower. To celebrate the day, the church is also open to look around and there are lots of activities. For more details click here.