Description: Rhizomatous perennial herbs; roots tuberous, fleshy or fibrous, leaves forming basal rosette with an erect, largely leafless scape bearing a terminal inflorescence.
Leaves linear, spirally set or rarely distichous, sheathing at the base; stipules absent.
Inflorescence a simple or compound raceme, spike or panicle, sometimes condensed into dense heads or clusters. Flowers generally actinomorphic, 3-merous, bisexual. Tepals 6, in 2 whorls, similar or slightly different in size and shape, white, yellow, blue or purple. Stamens 3 or 6, those with 3 with or without 3 staminodes; filaments free or basally fused, glabrous or variously hairy; anthers 2-locular, introrse, latrorse or extrorse, dorsifixed to epipeltate or more rarely basifixed, dehiscing by pores or longitudinal slits. Ovary superior, 3-locular; ovules 2–8 per loculus; placentation axile; style simple, erect, and apically 3-lobed or punctiform.
Fruit a loculicidal capsule or rarely a schizocarp (Tricoryne) or nut-like (Corynotheca); seeds usually 3–12, angled or rounded, brown to black.
Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 20 genera, c. 450–500 species, southern Africa, Madagascar, South-East Asia, Malesia, Australia, New Caledonia, New Zealand. Australia: 18 genera, c. 128 species, all States.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Asparagaceae, Order: Asparagales)
These genera have often been included in the Liliaceae s. lat., and Anthericaceae is sometimes treated as a synonym of Asparagaceae.
Text by S. McCune & D.W. Hardin
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Leaves chiefly basal, if some cauline then reducing in size up stem||2|
|All leaves cauline||10|
|2||Tepals spirally twisted after flowering||3|
|Tepals not spirally twisted after flowering|
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|3||Filaments all glabrous, or scabrous, finely pubescent or papillose; flowers blue or white to pale yellow||4|
|Filaments with a tuft of narrow clavate hairs below anther; flowers yellow|
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|4||Inflorescences annual; pedicels to 15 mm long; stamens of 2 lengths; capsule more or less 3-lobed; seed more or less globose; flowers blue or rarely white||Caesia|
|Inflorescence perennating; pedicels to 3.5 mm long; stamens equal in length; capsule not lobed; seed ellipsoid; flowers white to pale yellow|
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|5||Stamens 3, with 3 staminodes||Sowerbaea|
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|6||Margins of inner tepals fringed throughout||Thysanotus|
|Margins of inner tepals entire|
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|7||Anthers linear, longer than filaments||Dichopogon|
|Anthers linear, usually shorter than filaments|
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|8||Filaments glabrous or minutely papillose; perianth white||Chlorophytum|
|Filaments hirsute or finely pubescent; perianth pale blue, purple or white|
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|9||Inflorescence subsessile, flowers solitary; filaments finely pubescent; plants mat-forming||Herpolirion|
|Inflorescence scapose racemes or panicles, flowers usually 1–9 per node; filaments hirsute; plants never mat-forming|
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|10||Inflorescence a terminal head-like umbel, flowers more or less sessile or shortly pedicellate; leaves usually tufted leaving leafless intervals on stems||Laxmannia|
|Inflorescences an axillary condensed bracteate umbel-like raceme, the flowers distinctly pedicellate; leaves crowded along stem|
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