Posted 9th Apr 2018
The snake's head fritillary is a flower of damp riverside hay meadows, which blooms in the spring alongside lady's smock and marsh marigold
With the orange tip butterflies fluttering past, the recently-returned willow warbler will be singing from the riverbank, while the cuckoo will be declaring from the willow trees.
The favoured meadows could be few and far between for the snake's-head fritillary, but in the areas where it does grow, it will often grow in great profusion.
However, there are still questions about whether this is a truly native species. The first reference to it growing in the wild is relatively recent, dating back to 1736, even though it is already known to have been in gardens some 150 years earlier.
Regardless of its origins, the sight of a field ablaze with the drooping wine-red heads is a sight worth seeing.
How to do it
The snake's-head fritillary is now quite a rare plant in the wild. Visiting it in the morning, or towards the close of play, will give you the best views of the flowers when they are back-lit, glowing a berry red.
If you're unable to get to the special places listed below...
Hay meadows are one of the most endangered habitats in the country, and if you're lucky to live near a flower-rich grassland, you're very lucky indeed.
At Iffley Meadows in Oxfordshire an extraordinary restoration of snake's-head fritillaries has occurred a mile south of Oxford city centre. Only 500 of these delicate purple and pink chequered lantern flowers were counted when the Wildlife Trust took over management of the site in 1983. Now, there are over 89,000 individual plants recorded annually by volunteers.
Suffolk, Fox Fritillary Meadow
Wiltshire, Clattinger Farm
Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts / image courtesy of White fritillaries © Herefordshire Wildlife Trust