This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol1", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Bulbous herbs with simple leafy stems, and rather large nodding solitary or racemed leafy-bracted flowers. Perianth mostly campanulate, deciduous, of 6 separate and nearly equal oblong or ovate segments, each with a nectar-pit or spot at the base. Stamens 6, hy-pogynous; filaments filiform or somewhat flattened; anthers linear or oblong. Ovary nearly or quite sessile, 3-celled; ovules numerous in each cavity; style slender or filiform, 3-lobed or 3-cleft, the lobes stigmatic along the inner side. Capsule obovoid or globose, 6-angled, loculi-cidally dehiscent. Seeds numerous, flat, obovate or suborbicular, margined or winged. [Latin, from fritillus, a dice-box or chess-board, in allusion to the form or to the checkered markings of the perianth in some species.]
About 50 species, natives of the north temperate zone. Besides the following, about 12 others occur in western North America. Type species: Fritillaria pyre-ndica L.
Bulb 1/2'in diameter or less. Stem 6'-15' high, slender, leafless below; leaves linear, alternate, sessile, 1 1/2'-3 1/2' long, 1 1/2"-2" wide or less; flowers 1-6, purple or purplish green and mottled; perianth-segments narrowly oblong, obtusish,' 6"-10" long; peduncles 1/2'-l' long; stamens one-half to two-thirds as long as the perianth; style 3-cleft to about the middle, the lobes linear; capsule erect, acutely angled, 5"-6" high.
North Dakota to Nebraska, Montana and California.