This is a genus of approximately 100 species of bulbous perennials. They are distributed throughout the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, particularly the Mediterranean, Asia and North America. They occupy a range of habitats from woodland to open meadows and high screes.
The majority bloom in spring, with flowers that are generally bell-shaped and pendant. The leaves are usually linear or lance-shaped. The name comes from the Latin word fritillus, a dicebox, from the spotted markings on the flowers of F. meleagris, which are suggestive of a dice-board.