Flower Guide to Snake's Head Fritillary: How to use it in your wedding or event


A warning – this is a bit of a love letter to this little flower! 

Snake’s Head is one of my absolute favourites. It perks up gardens in late Winter and early Spring and the heavily detailed petals mean people always need to look again at these enchanting little flowers. They are at their most special when sunlight glows through them showing off their chequered pattern. 

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These flowers sit at the front of a few beds in my front garden but I am also trying to encourage them along a grassy bank along the edge. They look beautiful when integrated into lawns, but it can take a couple of years to get there! This flower is perfect for couples who want something a little unusual and are not interested in anything too floaty or pastel.  Read on for my tips on how to use them.

Please note these images are of the burgundy/plum flowers in my garden but they also come in cream/white and citrus green (and very, very occasionally in orange!)

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When are they available?

Florists in the UK can generally obtain the flower from the end of December to mid March, but it is not reliably available throughout this period even when imported. 

If you are only looking to use flowers grown in the UK then speak to your grower as they don’t do well in certain types of soil and so your grower may know that they are not an option in his/her neck of the woods! These little ones are weather dependent and so can’t be guaranteed at any time of the year but look out for them in late March, April and early May.

These are fairly easy to grow so do give them a go yourself too!

How to use them at your wedding or event

  • These flowers are not the cheapest and so if you are on a budget consider using them sparingly. Perhaps use them with a very pale colour so that they stand out in your designs and you get the most bang for your buck!
  • They are usually sold with their foliage (long thin leaves) and so you might be able to make use of the foliage in your bouquet or other arrangement if you are happy with quite a wild look.
  • If you are using home-grown flowers they work beautifully with hellebores and summer snowflakes which also flower at the same time.
  • They don’t have very long stems and so keep this in mind when planning your bouquet and table arrangements (think jam jar height rather than a tall vase!)
  • If you are a DIY bride who wants to sound like you know what you are talking about at the market they are sold in ‘bunches of 10 stems’.
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A little bit of history

  • These used to be commonly grown and sold in the UK, especially along the banks of the Thames, but most of the fritillary fields were ploughed during the war to make room for crops.  The same is true of daffodils in the South. If you see them in the wild then count yourself lucky and stop to appreciate them!
  • The botanical name is Fritillaria meleagris which comes from a combination of the Latin for a dice box and the words for ‘spotted like a guinea fowl’.
  • Don’t let this put you off (!), but the flower has historically been used to symbolise persecution. 
  • Sometimes described as the flower of Oxfordshire – perhaps consider including these if you want to do something special for an Oxfordshire family member at your wedding? Go and visit Magdalen College in late April if you want to see them in all their glory.

You won’t regret including these little beauties in your wedding or event flowers and I guarantee you will have guests asking what they are! 

Snake's Head Fritillary by Jennifer Pinder. A guide to using this flower at weddings or events including the meaning of the flower (persecution) and a bit of the history too