Fritillaria latifolia

(Fritillaria latifolia)



Fritillaria (fritillaries) is a genus of spring flowering herbaceous bulbous perennial plants in the lily family (Liliaceae). The type species, Fritillaria meleagris, was first described in Europe in 1571, while other species from the Middle East and Asia were also introduced to Europe at that time. The genus has about 130-140 species divided among eight subgenera. The flowers are usually solitary, nodding and bell-shaped with bulbs that have fleshy scales, resembling those of lilies. They are known for their large genome size and genetically are very closely related to lilies. They are native to the temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere, from the Mediterranean and North Africa through Eurasia and southwest Asia to western North America. Many are endangered due to enthusiastic picking. The name Fritillaria is thought to refer to the checkered pattern of F. meleagris, resembling a box in which dice were carried. Fritillaries are commercially important in horticulture as ornamental garden plants and also in traditional Chinese medicine, which is also endangering some species. Fritillaria flowers have been popular subjects for artists to depict and as emblems of regions and organizations. Fritillaria is a genus of perennial herbaceous bulbiferous geophytes, dying back after flowering to an underground storage bulb from which they regrow in the following year.It is characterised by nodding (pendant) flowers, perianths campanulate (bell- or cup-shaped) with erect segments in upper part, a nectarial pit, groove or pouch at the base of the tepal, anthers usually pseudobasifixed, rarely versatile, fruit sometimes winged, embryo minute. Gerard (1597) states that Fritillaria was unknown to the ancients,but certainly it was appearing in the writings of sixteenth century European botanists, including Dodoens (1574, 1583), Lobelius, and Clusius in addition to Gerard, and was mentioned by Shakespeare and other authors of the period (see Culture). Species of Fritillaria were known in Persia (Iran) in the sixteenth century, from where they were taken to Turkey. European travelers then brought back specimens together with many other exotic eastern plants to the developing botanical gardens of Europe. By the middle of the sixteenth century there was already a flourishing export trade of various bulbs from Turkey to Europe.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Plantae
Class: Liliopsida
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