A glorious plant, from two to five feet tall, with leaves mostly in whorls, with rippled edges. The stem bears a magnificent cluster of blossoms, most wonderful in coloring, for the buds and young flowers are white, dotted with purple inside, with yellow anthers and a pale-green pistil, but they gradually change to pink, and deepen to ruby-purple as they fade, and the anthers and pistil also darken in color. The effect of the whole cluster is therefore white at the top, shading through pink to almost crimson below. The flowers are even more deliciously fragrant than the Washington Lily, which they resemble, except that they are not quite so large as the latter and stand more erect and the petals are not so spreading. This usually grows among chaparral in the Coast Ranges.
There are many kinds of Fritillaria, natives of the north temperate zone. In the East there are only cultivated ones, such as the familiar Crown Imperial, but we have a number growing wild in the West. They have bulbs with round, thick scales, developing into bulblets and sometimes resembling grains of rice. The flowers are bell-shaped, and nodding, with separate and nearly equal divisions, each with a nectar-spot at its base. They resemble Lilies, but the style is three-cleft, the honey-gland is a shallow pit and the flowers are smaller. The capsule is roundish and six-angled, containing numerous flat seeds. It is conspicuous and perhaps suggested the Latin name, meaning "dice-box."