National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Snake's Head Fritillary

Snake's Head Fritillary

Fritillaria meleagris, family Liliaceae
April to May

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) is probably the most popular Scottish architect, designer and water colourist of the last century. Today his distinctive and radical designs are available in all forms from household items to furniture and jewellery. Many of his buildings are still in use today such as The Willow Tea Room, Glasgow, and the Scotland Street School. Whilst others such as The Hill House, Helensburgh are in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.

Fritillaria by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Fritillaria by Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Mackintosh was an accomplished botanical artist and his watercolour illustration of the Snake's Head Fritillary (1915) is perhaps the best known example of his work in this area. Many others can be seen at the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow. Although listed by John Gerard (1545-1612) in 1597, it was not recorded in the wild in Britain until 1796.

Native to parts of Britain but not Scotland, it can only be seen in specialised gardens and collections here in the north. One of the most famous locations to see it growing naturally and in bloom is in the meadows to the front of Magdalen College, Oxford.

Snake's Head Fritillary. Image credit: Tony Hisgett, Flickr. CC license
Snake's Head Fritillary. Image credit: Kevan, Flickr. CC license