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Common Name: Crown Imperial
Fritillaria imperialis is a Bulb up to 1.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine
The bulb is poisonous raw[
], it contains low concentrations of a toxic alkaloid[
W. Asia - W. Himalayas, Turkey and Iran.
Cliffs, rocky slopes and amongst scrub, 1000 - 3000 metres in Turkey[
]. On humus rich soils, usually in gullies and shaded sides of large rocks, 1800 - 2600 metres in Kashmir[
Easily grown in a moderately fertile soil[
]. Prefers a heavy soil without any disturbance, not even hoeing[
]. Requires a well-drained soil and a sunny position[
] or the shade of deciduous trees or shrubs[
]. Succeeds in drier soils and is drought tolerant once established[
]. Plants succeed in most fertile soils, avoiding pure chalk, heavy clay and boggy sites[
The dormant bulbs are very hardy and will withstand soil temperatures down to at least -10°c[
A very ornamental plant, there are some named varieties[
]. The flowers smell of wet fur and garlic[
Bulbs should be planted 10 - 12 cm deep in July[
] on their side with sharp sand beneath them to ensure that they do not rot[
Bulb - cooked[
]. A minor source of starch[
]. Some caution is advised since there are reports of toxicity.
The bulb is diuretic, emollient and resolvent[
]. It is also a cardiac poison[
]. It has been used as an expectorant and also to encourage increased breast milk production[
]. The fresh plant contains the toxic alkaloid 'imperialine'[
Seed - best sown as soon as ripe in a cold frame, it should germinate in the spring[
]. Protect from frost[
]. Stored seed should be sown as soon as possible and can take a year or more to germinate[
]. Sow the seed quite thinly to avoid the need to prick out the seedlings. Once they have germinated, give them an occasional liquid feed to ensure that they do not suffer mineral deficiency. Once they die down at the end of their second growing season, divide up the small bulbs, planting 2 - 3 to an 8cm deep pot. Grow them on for at least another year in light shade in the greenhouse before planting them out whilst dormant.
Division of offsets in August[
]. The larger bulbs can be planted out direct into their permanent positions, but it is best to pot up the smaller bulbs and grow them on in a cold frame for a year before planting them out in the autumn.