Brief Summary

Fritillaria is a genus in the Liliaceae family 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 colored although they may have attractive markings. Some of the species have a "foxy" odor.

The name of the genus is said to come from the latin fritillus or dice box. Many of the species have spotted or checked flowers. Fritillary or fritillaries is also a common name for butterflies in the family Nymphalidae, again deriving from their patterned wings. John Gerrard, page 123, in his book The Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes published in 1597, says the name may derive from the tables at which chess or dice was played frittillo.

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In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Lilioceris lilii grazes on live leaf of Fritillaria

Foodplant / pathogen
anamorph of Sclerotinia bulborum infects and damages live bulb of Fritillaria
Other: minor host/prey


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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:83
Specimens with Sequences:84
Specimens with Barcodes:57
Species With Barcodes:30
Public Records:62
Public Species:28
Public BINs:0
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Barcode data

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"Fritillary" redirects here. For three species of butterflies, see Fritillary (disambiguation).

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).

The major name of herbs and true species listed on the Chinese Pharmacopoeia & National Standards are as follows:[6]

Classified by shape :松贝 Songbei, 青贝 Qingbei , 炉贝, Cultivated form.
Classified by species:川贝母 Fritillaria cirrhosa D.Don, 暗紫贝母 Fritillaria unibracteata Hsiao et K.C.Hsia, 甘肃贝母 Fritillaria przewalskii Maxim, 梭砂贝母 Fritillaria delavayi Franch, 太白贝母 Fritillaria taipaiensis P.Y. Li, 瓦布贝母 Fritillaria unibracteata Hsiao et K. C. Hsia var. wabuensis(S. Y. Tang et S. C. Yueh)Z. D. Liu,S. Wang et S. C. Chen

Though there are many local farms which grow the local native Fritillaria species for the market of herb, there are only three companies (1 川贝母ChuānBèiMǔ and 2 平贝母 PingBèiMǔ) which are certified growing under the regulation of the "Good Agricultural Practice for Chinese Crude Drugs" so far.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9]

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]

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. ^ yuan, Chen shi lin, lin yu lin, guo jia yao dian wei yuan hui, yi ke (2010). Zhong hua ren min gong he guo yao dian zhong yao cai ji yuan zhi wu cai se tu jian. Bei jing: Ren min wei sheng chu ban she. ISBN 9787117129275. 
  7. ^ "公众服务 > 数据查询 > 公告查询 > 中药材GAP". 
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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. doi:10.1080/03670244.1983.9990754. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
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