Lily, Crown Imperial

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Lily, Crown Imperial

otanical: Fritillaria imperialis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Liliaceae

Fritillaria imperialis (Linn.), the Crown Imperial Lily of Persia, is said to be there cultivated as a food plant, its bulb possessing poisonous properties when raw, but being wholesome when cooked.

There are two kinds of this handsome plant, associated with the earliest type of English gardens. They bear a circle of pendulous flowers - one blooms pure lemon yellow, the other deep orange red - and have a crown of foliage above them. The same name is given to this Lily in all European languages.

The bulbs have a foetid odour, described as being like that of a fox, and are powerfully acrid and poisonous. Even honey from the flowers is said to be emetic.

Imperialine was isolated by Fragner in 1888, on extracting the bulbs with chloroform. This alkaloid and its salts are intensely bitter and are heart poisons.

No medicinal use is made of the plant.