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.
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.
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.