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Family Phormiaceae

Synonyms: Dianellaceae APNI*

Description: Rhizomatous herbs or subshrubs.

Leaves distichous, mostly basal or near-basal, often rigid and tough, linear, parallel-veined; teeth often present on margins and midribs.

Inflorescence cymose, terminal on a ± elongate leafy or bracteate scape, sparingly to strongly branched, with few–many flowers in condensed or expanded cymules. Flowers actinomorphic [or slightly zygomorphic], 3-merous, bisexual. Tepals 6, in 2 whorls, free or nearly so, the inner usually more petaloid, blue, violet, white or yellow [to red]. Stamens 6; filaments slender, variously papillose or villous or thickened apically to form a globose or ovoid structure covered with papillae; anthers basifixed, introrse or extrorse, dehiscing by apical pores or longitudinal slits. Ovary superior, 3-locular; placentation axile; ovules 2–numerous per loculus; style erect, filiform; stigma capitate, papillose.

Fruit a capsule or berry; seeds mostly ovoid, dark brown to black.

Distribution and occurrence: World: 7 or 8 genera, Africa, South-East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Pacific islands & South America. Australia: 4 genera, 20 species, all States.

External links:
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae, Order: Asparagales)

Often included in the Liliaceae s. lat. in the past, and sometimes treated as a synonym of Hemerocallidaceae.

Phormium tenax J. R. Forst. & G. Forst., the New Zealand Flax, is a source of fibre (leaves) and is often cultivated as an ornamental. Note: breadth of leaf blade is measured about halfway along the mature blade. Surfaces of leaves should be checked for venation patterns at c. X 20 magnification.

Text by K.L. Wilson
Taxon concept:

 Key to the genera 
1Flowers strongly tubular, mixed red-brown-orange in colourPhormium
Flowers with tepals wide-spreading from near base or recurved, white or blue or pale yellow2
2Fruit a berry; anthers not coiling after dehiscence; staminal filaments swollen and papillose at apexDianella
Fruit a capsule; anthers coiling or strongly recurving after dehiscence; staminal filaments not swollen and papillose at apex
                       Back to 1
3Flowers nodding; staminal filaments very densely hairy in upper half; seeds lenticular with ridged margins, dull or glisteningStypandra
Flowers erect; staminal filaments shortly and densely hairy except at base and apex; seeds laterally compressed with rounded margins, more or less shining
                       Back to 2

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