Habit: this attractive and quite unique fritillaria grows from a perennial bulb, and reaches about 2 feet in height. Its stems grow erect and bear grayish, linear to lanceolate leaves. The blades are arranged in whorls along the lower half of the stem and are alternate along the upper half. Bright, red nodding flowers come into sight in the early spring. The bell-like blossoms have scarlet tepals which are usually spotted with yellow marks on the inside and purple ones on the outside; the tepals are lobed and curved back at the tips. The fruits are winged seed capsules.
Ecology: it grows in dry, open woodlands and chaparral, occurring at low to mid elevations. It is native to southern Oregon, northern California, and to the northwestern border of Nevada. Its scarlet blossoms are frequently observed by the Tahoe Basin visitors.
Growing conditions: it favors full to partial sun, and humus-rich, well-drained soils. It is a great addition to a rock garden or the dappled light under an open tree canopy.
Scarlet fritillaria is one of the few red lilies in the West and the only species in the genus bearing red flowers. The species name “recurva” refers to the recurved tips of the tepals.