fritillaria meleagris: „checkered most strangely“ / ‚the herball‘ by john gerard

fritillaria_meleagris_500   fritillaria meleagris / schachbrettblume: kariert kurz vor der blüte. die weissen blüten sind weiter..


Of Turkie or Ginnie-hen Flower. Chap. 79


The description.
1. The checkered Daffodill or Ginny hen flower, hath small narrow grassie leaves; among which there riseth vp a stalke three hands high, hauing at the top one or two flowers, and sometimes three, which consisteth of sixe small leaves, checkered most strangely: wherein nature or rather the Creator of all things hath kept a very woonderfull order, surpassing (as in all other things) the curiest painting that Art can set down. One square is
of a greenish yellow color, the other purple, keeping the same order as wel on the backside of the flower as one the inside, although they are blackish in one square, & of a violet colour in another: in so much that every leafe seemeth to be the feather of a Ginnie hen, whereof it tooke his name. The root is small, white, and of the bignesse of halfe a garden beane.
2. The second kinde of checkered Daffodill is like unto the former in each respect, fauing
that this hath his flowre dasht ouer with a light purple, and is somewhat greater than the other: wherein consisteth the difference.

The place.
These rare and beautifullk plants grow naturally wilde in the fields about Orleance and Lions in Fraunce, from whence they haue been brought into the most parts of Europe. The curious and painfull Herbalist of Paris John Robin, hath sent me many plants thereof for my garden, where they prosper as in their owne natiue countrey.

The time.
They flower from beginning of March unto the end of Aprill. The seede is ripe in June.

The names.
The Ginny hen flower is called Dodonæus, Flos Meleagris: of L’Obelius, Lilio-narcissus variegatus, for that it hath the flowerr of a Lillie, and the roote of Narcissus: it hath been called Frittillaria, of the table or boord upon which men plaie at chesse, which square checkers the flower doth very much resemble, some thinking that it was named Frittillus, where there is no certaintie, for Martialis seemeth to call Frittillus, Abacus, or the tables whereat men play at dice, in the first booke of his Epigrams, writing to Galla.

Iam tristis, nucibus relictis,
Clamoso reuocatur à magistro:
Et blando male proditus Frittillo
Arcana modo raptus è popina
AEdilem rogat udus aleator.

The fad boye, hauing his nuts forsaken,
of clamorous master called upon a maine,
And waxt starke nought by flattering tables traine,
And latley from the priuie kitchen taken
Being a drunke dice-plaier,
Doth aske to be furueiour.

In English we may call it Turkie hen, or Ginny hen Flower, and also Checkered Daffodill.

The temperature and vertues.
Of the facultie of these pleasant flowers there is nothing set downe in the antient or later writers, but are greatly esteemed for the beautifieing of our gardens, and the bosomes of the beautifull.

john gerard, ‚the herball or generall historie of plantes‘, london, 1597 (in vielen teilen eine übersetzung des herbariums von rembert dodoens, 1554).


gerard beschreibt die fritillaria meleagris als gartenpflanze. eines ihrer grössten wilden oder verwilderten vorkommen in england ist in oxford zu finden. der zum magdalen college gehörenden addison’s walk umschliesst einen meadow mit fritillaria meleagris. die ersten zeugnisse über dieses vorkommen stammen aus den jahr 1785. ob aloysius hier zur blütezeit spazierengegangen ist, ist leider nicht überliefert…

map_addisons_walk_oxford_500  detail aus: l. longmade, ’new map of the city of oxford‘ aus ‚the antient and present state of the city of oxford‘ von anthony à wood & john pechell, 1773.


fritillaria_meleagris_aussaat_500   auf dem weg zur schachbrettblumenwiese: die ersten, noch etwas mickrigen,  (selbst)ausgesäten fritillaria meleagris & das erste frühlingslaub: die magnolie verliert die blütenblätter.