Remarkable for its purply brown or greenish yellow checkered petals, the fritillary lily was first noted at Oxford University in 1785 and continues to blossom there every spring.
In nearby Ducklington, a daylong festival, Fritillary Sunday, is held annually in late April or early May.
This story first appeared in the March 24, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Considering all the hubbub the flower attracts, the lily also boasts a slew of macabre appellations. Snake’s Head Lily is a plug for the bloom’s stooped position—like that of a striking cobra—and Leper’s Lily is a reference to the bells that lepers carried in the Middle Ages.
Unfortunately, these ghastly nicknames aren’t totally off-the-mark: The eye-catching bulb is known to contain poisonous alkaloids.