A week or so ago, I bought a new plant: a fritillary in a small pot. By the time I got my acquisition home, the tag had gotten lost. Even then, I might have remembered the name on the tag; but before I could do that, I happened to glance at a package of seeds sitting on the table labelled “Fritillaria verticillata”. Of course, whatever name had been in my mind was immediately erased and replaced with “verticillata”.
This plant is definitely not Fritillaria verticillata, which has white flowers and may be seen here. My plant has an outer layer of brownish purple petals and an inner layer of yellow petals, which peek out from under the outer layers like a petticoat from beneath a skirt. The purple colour was quite saturated when I first brought the plant home, but has faded to a lavender shade, making the yellow more prominent.
I looked at a lot of photos on Google images and thought that my plant might be Fritillaria michailovskyi. I read that this plant was discovered quite recently, in 1983. Last year, two Dutch citizens were apprehended at the border between Turkey and Bulgaria. The men were allegedly trying to smuggle 57 rare tulip bulbs out of Turkey.
However, officials called experts from Trakya University’s Biology Department to look into the matter further. Researchers inspected the confiscated plants and discovered that some, especially the upside-down tulip (Fritillaria Michailovskyi) which is only grown in the eastern province of Erzurum and the eastern district of Şemdinli in Hakkari, were endemic species whose export is illegal. The Fritillaria Michailovskyi is also known as the Adıyaman Lalesi in Turkey.
It was an interesting and worrisome thought that I might have in my own garden a rare, precious “upside-down tulip”; however, the more I looked at photos of Fritillaria michailovskyi and compared them with my own plant, the less convinced I became. My plant is taller than the 20 cm. ascribed to Fritillaria michailovskyi and the colours, both purple and yellow, seemed less intense.
At this point, I’m wavering between Fritillaria assyriaca and Frillaria uva-vulpis. If anyone out there can provide a more definite identification, please comment on this post. In any event, it is a pleasing plant and I hope it thrives in my garden. The planting instructions were pretty much the same for all of these varieties: full sun and good drainage. I’ve planted them on a slope next to some Snowdrops.
Note: the painting below does not accurately depict the colours of the flowers or the foliage.