Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Horticultural Interpreter.
The fritillaries are some of the most beguiling blooms of spring. One of the earliest is Fritillaria verticillata and it is now now starting to show off its pale-green, nodding flowers. They are charming enough when viewed from a slight distance, but a close-up inspection of the interior reveals a fascinating checker pattern.
Although named more properly Fritillaria thunbergii (the Thunberg fritillary), this plant was introduced to the horticultural trade many years ago as F. verticillata, a name that belongs to a related, but seldom cultivated, species. Once established, a misnomer like this is very difficult to correct.
Regardless of its perplexing nomenclature, this early bloomer is worthy of a visit. Look for it in the Wild Garden, not far from the Gazebo.