Fritillaria imperialis

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Kaiser's crown
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Liliales
Family: Liliaceae
Genus: Fritillaria
Species: F. imperialis
Binomial name
Fritillaria imperialis
  • Fritillaria aintabensis Post
  • Fritillaria corona-imperialis Panz.
  • Fritillaria corona-imperialis Gaertn.
  • Fritillaria imperialis var. longipetala auct.
  • Fritillaria imperialis var. maxima Eeden
  • Fritillaria imperialis var. rubra-maxima auct.
  • Imperialis comosa Moench
  • Imperialis coronata Dum.Cours.
  • Imperialis superba Mirb.
  • Lilium persicum E.H.L.Krause
  • Petilium imperiale (L.) J.St.-Hil.
  • Petilium imperiale Jaume

Fritillaria imperialis (Crown imperial or Kaiser's crown) is a species of flowering plant of the genus Fritillaria, family Liliaceae, native to a wide stretch from Anatolia and Iraq across the plateau of Iran to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Himalayan foothills. It is also widely cultivated as an ornamental and reportedly naturalized in Austria. The common names and also the epithet "imperialis" refer to the large circle of golden flowers, reminiscent of an emperor's crown.[2][3]

Fritillaria imperialis grows to about 1 m (3 ft) in height, and bears lance-shaped, glossy leaves at intervals along the stem. It bears a prominent whorl of downward facing flowers at the top of the stem, topped by a 'crown' of small leaves, hence the name. While the wild form is usually orange-red, various colours are found in cultivation, ranging from nearly a true scarlet through oranges to yellow. The pendulous flowers make a bold statement in the late spring garden; in the northern hemisphere, flowering takes place in late spring, accompanied by a distinctly foxy odour that repels mice, moles and other rodents.[3][4]

Due to the way that the bulb is formed, with the stem emerging from a depression, it is best to plant it on its side, to prevent water causing rot at the top of the bulb.[5] Fritillaria imperialis requires full sun for best growth, and sandy, well-drained soil for permanence. After flowering and complete drying of the leaves, the stems should be cut off just above the ground.

Numerous cultivars have been developed for garden use, of which the yellow-flowered 'Maximea Lutea' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[6]

Like other members of the lily family, F. imperialis is susceptible to depredation by the scarlet lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii).[3]


  1. ^ The Plant List
  2. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ a b c RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964. 
  4. ^ Linnaeus, Carl. 1753. Species Plantarum 1: 303
  5. ^ [1] BBC Gardening
  6. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Fritillaira imperialis 'Maximea Lutea'". Retrieved 20 June 2013.