Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Purple Fritillaries

The purple version of the Fritillaria mileagris looks as if an artist took a fine sable paintbrush and meticulously dabbed dark and light grape-colored gingham checks onto the flower petals. As might be expected, one of its common names is the checkered lily. There is a white variety as well, quite as dainty - though I can't help but have a special fondness for the checkerboard patterned ones which, after all, lends its latinate meaning to the word "fritillary."

There is another purple fritillary, the statuesque Fritillaria persica - native to Turkey - from whence many of the bulbous flowers (a prime example being the tulip) seem to have hailed. F. persica lords it over many of the shorter bulbs blooming at this time of the spring season. The flower begins the season as a stack of tiny white seed beads, each row lengthening into buds gradually fattening into nuggets of grapes, finally unfurling into a stalk of clustered alternating bells heads above the rest.

And if you're naughty and look up their purple skirts, you will see the chromium orange stamens and pistils peering back at you impassively. And they will not fritter nor twitter nor flutter. Those Queen of the Night petals wear their regal raiment with suitable gravitas.

Damn your impertinence. So, there!

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