The Regal Crown Imperial (Fritillaria imperialis)

I think one of the more unusual bulbs we have in the spring garden is the regal Crown Imperial. Its flowers are bold, bright, and indeed very stately. Standing tall at about 3 feet high, the colours stand out from the rest of the emerging leaves and bulbs in the borders, and if they are near a path the pretty flowers can be inspected at close quarters.

Each petal has a large droplet of nectar hanging from its base, and if you are brave enough, dip a finger in and taste it - it is incredibly sweet. Which got us gardeners wondering - what kind of flying animal/insect would pollinate the frittilaria imperialis? After a little while on google, the incredible answer was revealed....

A botanist working in Cambridge has shown that a European flower is pollinated by a bird. The flower, the crown imperial fritillary, Fritillaria imperialis, which is common in European gardens, is pollinated by the bluetit. You can read the full article here

Drawbacks of the crown imperial? this would be the pungent smell, which occurs when the plant is touched, or even when the strong spring sunlight heats the leaves - not sure how I would describe it, but I have heard it likened to the smell of foxes, but not sure what thats like either....!