Crown Imperials

The central monocot oval of the Systematic Beds is dominated by a stand of beautiful orange Crown Imperials, Fritillaria imperialis. Sturdy, straight blue-grey stems support a circlet of rich orange flowers, the shoulder of each petal striped blue-grey, and a top-knot of fresh green leaves.
If very lucky, you could spot Blue-tits visiting the flowers. Cambridge University botanist, Alberto Burquez, noted Blue-tits visiting the Crown Imperials at the Botanic Garden over several springs in the late 1980s and was the first to show that a European flower could be pollinated by a bird (Oikos, vol 55, p 335). This also makes the Crown Imperial the most northerly species of bird-pollinated, or ornithophilous, plant to be reported.

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