The genus has around 100 or more species and are distributed throughout Europe and North Africa (especially around the Mediterranean), temperate Asia and North America. Most of them have pendant flowers but many of these are not brilliantly coloured although they may have attractive markings. The name of the genus is said to come from the latin fritillus or dice box as many of the species have spotted or checked flowers.
Cultural requirements vary quite a bit depending on the species and the habitat where it orginates and it is fair to say that over a third of the 100 Fritillaria species are not easy to grow: they require a great deal of time and the reality is are best kept by experts. Another third are too expensive and therefore automatically become “high maintenance” to less experienced gardeners. However that does leave a field of 30 Fritillaria species, that we as gardeners can grow outside. These hardy Fritillaria can be reasonably purchased, then following a few rules will thrive and quickly bulk-up in your garden. Of these there are about 18 that us mere mortals could grow without too many problems. These include:
The smaller ones (under 30cm) include: graeca, hermonis, kurdica and pudica.
Mid height (under 40cm) acmopetala, elwesii, meleagris, messanensis, pontica, pyrenaica and whittallii,
Tall Fritillaria (over 40cm) F. eduardii, camschatcensis, imperialis, pallidiflora, persica, raddeana and uva-vulpis.
Of these acmopetala, meleagris, pontica and uva-vulpis are readily available from mainstream bulb suppliers. The rest can be sourced via various interest groups, rare plant fairs and the purchase of seed from local and overseas suppliers.
Description and Distribution:
Eastern Siberia, Japan, the Kamtschatka Peninsula, north Pacific islands and Alaska down to Washington State. Easily grown in a light moist but well-drained sandy woodland soil.