This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
Of this genus there are several forms which are worthy of being included among spring flowers when the collection, is to be composed of all that combine early-flowering qualities with some beauty or elegance in form or colour. But the Fritillarias cannot be regarded as decorative plants; they are more curious and elegant than showy and striking in colour. F. Meleagris is the best known, excepting perhaps the Crown Imperial (F. imperial-is), which flowers too late to be fit to include in a list of spring flowers, and also the handsomest both in colour and form. There are several varieties, the best being that usually regarded as the normal form, with purple-brown spotted flowers, and the white-flowered one. F. nigra has very deep, dark, reddish-brown flowers, and F. obliqua purple-brown flowers.