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Checker Lily
Fritillaria affinis
About Checker Lily (Fritillaria affinis) Nurseries Show All Photos Fritillaria affinis (checker lily, chocolate lily) is a highly variable species in the genus Fritillaria, native to western North America, in California, Klamath Ranges, the north coast ranges, Cascade Ranges, north Sierra Nevada foothills, and the San Francisco Bay Area, north to British Columbia and Idaho. It is found at elevations ranging from sea level to 5,000 ft. It grows from a bulb, which resembles a small mass of rice grains. The stems are 10-120 centimeter tall. The flowers are produced in the spring, nodding, 1-4 centimeter, yellowish or greenish brown with a lot of yellow mottling to purplish black with little mottling, or yellow-green mottled with purple. The leaves are in whorls. Like many other native geophytes, it needs either a dry summer dormancy or very well drained soil. Given its wide range in the wild, it should be easy to grow. However, people report varying results in the garden.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial herb

Max. Height
0.33 - 3.9 ft (0.1 - 1.2 m)

Max. Width
.5 ft (0.2 m)

Summer Deciduous

Flower Color
Brown, Cream, Green, Purple, Yellow

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Grassy places, coastal prairy, open oak woods, coniferous forests

Part Shade

Elevation ?
3' - 5452'

Annual Precip. ?
14.4" - 153.3"

Summer Precip. ?
0.18" - 5.57"

Coldest Month ?
36.9° F - 51.4° F

Hottest Month ?
57.2° F - 76.3° F

Humidity ?
0.08 vpd - 24.89 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers well-drained soils on open slopes


Sunset Zones ?
5, 6, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Companion Plants
Best used with native grasses, spring annuals, and other geophytes such as Mariposa Lily (Calochortus sp.). May be used in the understory of Oaks (Quercus sp.), various Pines (Pinus sp.), and larger chaparral shrubs.

Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Seldom Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Propagation ?
Propagation from seed is possible but not easy. The plant is usually grown from bulbs bought from specialty nurseries.

Nursery Availability
Available Through Seed Stores

Other Names
Botanical Names
Fritillaria affinis var. affinis

Common Names
Coast Checker Lily

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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