Description: Predominantly large rosette herbs or trees with a stout trunk, often long-lived; rootstock usually a rhizome.
Leaves usually crowded at base or at top of stem, ± succulent, apex mostly spinose, base not sheathing, margins entire or with marginal spines; stipules lacking.
Inflorescence racemose, paniculate, spicate or a thyrse, terminal, usually on an elongate bracteate scape. Flowers actinomorphic or slightly zygomorphic, 3-merous, bisexual [or unisexual]. Tepals 6, equal or unequal, in 2 whorls, free or united in a tube. Stamens 6; filaments free; anthers introrse, dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Ovary superior or inferior, 3-locular; placentation axile; ovules 1–many per loculus; style short or long; stigma small and capitate to 3-lobed.
Fruit a berry or a capsule; seeds 1–many.
Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 8 genera, c. 370 species, America. Australia: 3 genera, 6 species (naturalized), Qld, N.S.W.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Asparagaceae, Order: Asparagales)
Text by G. J. Harden
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Leaves mostly less than 1 m long and less than 6 cm wide; scape 1–3 m high; ovary superior||Yucca|
|Leaves usually more than 1 m long and more than 6 cm wide; scape 2–6 m high; ovary inferior||2|
|2||Stamens much longer than tepals||Agave|
|Stamens shorter than tepals|
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