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The name fritillaria indicates a large number of bulbous plants, widespread in Africa, Asia and Europe; some species are widespread in nature also in Italy. All species of this plant, also called nut shell, are characterized by large bell-shaped flowers, which can be yellow, red, purple or white.
In reality we can divide the genus into two large groups: the imperial fritillaria, which produce flowers gathered in large circular crowns, and all the other fritillaries, which instead produce solitary or panicle-like flowers.
The fritillaria imperialis
It is a bulbous of Mediterranean origin, which slightly fears the winter cold, and therefore must be planted at the end of winter and sheltered during the cold months. Flowering occurs during the summer, or even in late spring. The bulbs of this variety are of considerable size, and produce large tufts of leaves; in summer from the tuft of leaves rises a rigid and straight stem, even 100-120 cm high, at the top of which 8-10 bell-shaped flowers bloom, gathered in a circular crown; the flowers of the dice case are very bright in color, usually red or yellow.
This bulbous is easy to cultivate, is planted in full sun and needs watering only in case of prolonged drought; as mentioned before, the imperialis varieties fear frost, so in regions with a very harsh winter climate they are uprooted during the winter, or are grown in capacious pots, in order to be able to place them in a sheltered place during the cold season.
There are many other species of fritillary, one of the most common is the f. meleagris, it is a small or medium-sized bulbous, which produces thin ribbon-like leaves of light green color; in spring thin stems can be seen between the leaves, bearing large bell-shaped flowers, white or purple in color; the peculiarity of the meleagris variety is that of having particularly colorful flowers: looking at them closely you can see that they have a checkerboard color.
These fritillaries do not fear the cold, and are suitable for growing wild, or to be left in the garden all year round.
The ideal growth zone for this plant are rivers and riparian areas where humidity is high, light diffused and never direct and very humid soils. It is found from the basal plane up to an altitude of 800 meters and even if it is a wild species, in some areas it has become rather rare.
Case of the dice - Fritillaria: Other varieties
Other species of nut shells have cultural characteristics similar to meleagris, usually producing single flowers, purple or violet or even almost brown; some have particular flowers of very pale color, yellow, white or light green.
Among these we remember the fritillaria persica; the flowers of this bulbous are usually very dark, and bloom gathered in long panicles, on robust and fleshy stems, even 50-60 cm high
These species of fritillaries prefer fresh soils, in places that are not excessively dry or arid; in Italy they are also widespread in nature, in particular on the edges of alpine pastures.