Zhe Bei Mu Fritillaria thunbergii

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
Thunberg fritillary


The plant commonly known as Fritillaria thunbergii is a visually striking specimen. It is characterized by its bell-shaped flowers which dangle gracefully. These blooms come in a color spectrum ranging from white to yellow, often adorned with a checkered pattern in green, brown, or purple hues, giving them a unique and eye-catching appearance. The petals are known for their waxy texture and form a cup-like structure. The foliage of Fritillaria thunbergii is also distinctive. It has lance-shaped leaves that are organized in a whorled pattern on the stem, adding to the plant's structural appeal. These leaves are a lush green color, providing a perfect contrast to the intricate flowers. The overall impression of Fritillaria thunbergii is one of elegance and exotic charm, with its delicate flowers swaying on tall stems above the slender leaves. It's a plant that commands attention when in bloom and adds an element of sophistication to any garden setting.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Thunberg's Fritillary, Zhe Bei Mu

    • Common names

      Fritillaria verticillata var. thunbergii, Fritillaria collicola, Petilium thunbergii.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Fritillaria thunbergii, more commonly known as zhe bei mu, contains alkaloids such as imperialine and peimine that can be toxic if ingested in significant quantities. Though sometimes used in traditional medicine under controlled dosages, consumption of larger amounts of the plant, particularly the bulbs, can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. In severe cases, it may lead to respiratory complications, heart rhythm disturbances, and even convulsions. Prolonged intake or high doses can result in potentially serious toxic effects, so medical attention is advised if ingestion occurs.

    • To pets

      Zhe bei mu, the common name for Fritillaria thunbergii, is also toxic to pets. The primary toxic components are alkaloids that can cause salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, and in severe cases, possibly lead to central nervous system depression, cardiovascular abnormalities, and convulsions. If a pet ingests this plant, it is critical to seek veterinary assistance immediately. The outcome can be worse for smaller pets or those that consume a larger amount of the plant material.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      1-3 feet (0.3-0.9 meters)

    • Spread

      0.5-1 feet (0.15-0.3 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental Value: Adds aesthetic appeal to gardens with its unique bell-shaped flowers and striking appearance.
    • Biodiversity Support: Provides habitat and food for various insects, thus supporting local ecosystems.
    • Drought Tolerance: Adapts well to dry conditions, reducing the need for frequent watering in landscaping use.
    • Historical Significance: Has cultural importance in some regions, often associated with traditional gardening practices.
    • Education and Research: Serves as a subject for botanical study and helps in understanding plant morphological diversity.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Antitussive: Fritillaria thunbergii, commonly known as Zhe Bei Mu, is used in traditional Chinese medicine for its cough suppressant properties.
    • Expectorant: The bulb of the plant can act as an expectorant, helping to clear mucus from the airways.
    • Anti-inflammatory: It exhibits anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce swelling and pain.
    • Antioxidant: Contains compounds that may help protect cells from oxidative stress.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Floral Arrangements: Fritillaria thunbergii, commonly known as Zhe Bei Mu, is often used in floral arrangements for its unique bell-shaped flowers and tall, elegant stems.
    • Gardening Contrast: Gardeners may plant Zhe Bei Mu among lower-growing flowers to create a contrasting height element and focal point in their garden beds or borders.
    • Photography Subject: Due to its dramatic appearance and distinct structure, Zhe Bei Mu is a popular subject for botanical photography and art.
    • Educational Tool: This plant can be studied in classrooms or nature programs to teach about bulbous plant species and their life cycles.
    • Culinary Experiments: While not commonly consumed, some adventurous chefs have experimented with incorporating the edible parts of Zhe Bei Mu into gourmet dishes.
    • Dye Production: The bulbs of Zhe Bei Mu, like many other plant species, can be used to produce natural dyes for textiles or art projects.
    • Habitat Creation: When planted in gardens, Zhe Bei Mu can contribute to creating habitats that attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
    • Eco-Friendly Gifts: Zhe Bei Mu bulbs can be given as eco-friendly gifts that encourage others to plant and nurture flowers that contribute to biodiversity.
    • Symbolism and Tradition: In some cultures, Zhe Bei Mu may be symbolically used in rituals or ceremonies to represent various concepts, due to its unique and striking appearance.
    • Craft Supplies: Dried Zhe Bei Mu stalks or seed pods can be used in crafts, such as in making homemade wreaths or other decorations.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The plant Zhe Mu is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The plant Zhe Mu is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Perseverance: Fritillaria thunbergii, commonly known as Zhe Bei Mu, is known for its robust nature and ability to thrive in challenging environments, which represents the human quality of perseverance in the face of adversity.
    • Resilience: The plant's ability to come back year after year and withstand various conditions is symbolic of resilience and the capability to recover from difficulties.
    • Elegance: With its unique bell-shaped flowers, Zhe Bei Mu is often associated with elegance and grace, metaphorically implying refined beauty.
    • Fortitude: Because it grows from a bulb that survives underground through the winter, Zhe Bei Mu symbolizes inner strength and fortitude, suggestive of latent potential.
    • Adaptability: This species' adaptability to different soil types and environments represents the human capacity to adjust and thrive in various situations.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
As needed
  • water dropWater

    For the Chinese bells, it's important to maintain consistently moist soil during the growing season. Water the plant when the top inch of soil begins to dry out, which typically means once every week, depending on the climate and the time of year. Use about half a gallon of water per plant or less, making sure not to overwater as this can lead to bulb rot. During their dormant period in the late summer, reduce watering significantly to allow the soil to dry out somewhat between waterings.

  • sunLight

    Chinese bells thrive in full sun to partial shade conditions. They should be planted in a location that receives morning sunlight and partial shade during the hottest part of the day to protect them from intense afternoon sun, which can scorch the foliage.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Chinese bells prefer moderate temperatures and are hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, meaning they can withstand minimum temperatures down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal temperature range for Chinese bells is between 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They may require mulch in winter for protection against freezing temperatures.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning is not typically necessary for Chinese bells, but you can deadhead spent flowers to encourage additional blooming. Prune away any dead or damaged foliage to keep the plant healthy. The best time for this limited pruning is after the blooming period and before they enter dormancy.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    The best soil mix for Zhe Bei Mu (Fritillaria thunbergii) should be well-draining and fertile, with a mix of loam, sand, and some organic matter like compost. The soil pH should be slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 6.0 to 7.0, to support optimal growth.

  • plantRepotting

    Zhe Bei Mu should be repotted every two to three years, preferably during its dormancy period after the flowering season. This frequency helps to replenish nutrient-rich soil and accommodate growing bulbs.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Zhe Bei Mu prefers moderate humidity levels, not too dry or overly damp, to thrive. The optimal humidity range for this plant is about 40-60%.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place Zhe Bei Mu in bright, indirect light, with ample airflow.

    • Outdoor

      Plant Zhe Bei Mu in partial shade, in well-drained soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      4-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Fritillaria thunbergii, also known as Zhe Bei Mu, begins its life cycle when the seed germinates in autumn, requiring a cool, moist period to break dormancy. After germination, the seedling develops a small bulb, which will overwinter underground. The plant emerges in early spring, sending up a single, leafy stem; the leaves are lanceolate and narrow, and the stem can grow quite tall, producing one or more bell-shaped flowers that are usually yellowish-green with purple streaks or can be plain yellow. After flowering, which occurs in spring, the plant sets seed in capsule-like fruit; these seeds are dispersed by wind or animals. The bulb enters a dormant phase during the summer when the above-ground parts of the plant die back. The cycle recommences in the autumn with the existing bulb growing larger or producing offsets, thereby giving rise to new plants.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time


    • Fritillaria thunbergii, commonly known as the Thunberg's fritillary, is primarily propagated through bulb offsets, which is the most popular method of propagation for this species. This is typically done in the late summer or early fall, after the foliage has died back. To propagate, carefully dig up the parent bulbs and gently separate the offsets, which are miniature bulbs attached to the base of the main bulb. Each offset should have some roots attached. Replant the offsets at a depth of about 6 inches (15 centimeters) and around 8 inches (20 centimeters) apart in well-draining soil. The new plants will generally flower in one to two years after planting.