Fritillaria lanceolata is a gorgeous piece of work native to the Pacific Northwest region from the California foothills to the open forests of Washington State. The flowers are a deep red/maroon mottled with fine yellow/green spots, which gives them a brownish appearance from a distance. Only when viewed from up close do you really get to appreciate the complicated and alien-seeming aspect of these beauties (aside from imperialis, it really is crucial that you get down on your belly and see fritillaria like the bugs do to fully appreciate them). So get down. You’ll be glad you did.
This diminutive bombshell of a Frit packs a kapow of strange allure figured against a field of whatever green thing you’ve got it planted amongst. Which is just to say, as understated as this Fritillaria is, don’t worry about upstaging lanceloata: it’s not going to happen.
The common names of “rice root,” and “chocolate lily” come from use and appearance respectively: these Fritillaria were boiled and eaten by west coast Natives back in the day (that is, the prehistoric day). The flavor is said to resemble rice by those brave enough to try to simulate the bad old days. As for chocolate, Fritillaria are often referred to commonly as a lily (e.g. checkered lily), and the brownish coloration, seen from afar, or before the greenish spots pop, suggests a big fat bar of chocolate (to the hungry weary hiker perhaps).
The flowers bloom staring in early spring and are a real treat (i.e. rare) as the plant has become increasingly threatened thanks to unrepentant logging and mining.
After blooming, the seed pods set, and dry, and disperse the flat, deltoid seeds as the bulb goes dormant.
It’s near impossible to find Fritillaria lanceolata for sale anywhere on the Internet, but Dave’s Garden has a section devoted to plant trades. You can sometimes find this frit there.