Common name. Grass-lilies. Family Phormiaceae.
Sometimes included in Agavaceae.
Habit and leaf form. Shrubs, or herbs. Perennial. Leaves basal, or cauline (concentrated at the base of the stem). Plants with a basal concentration of leaves, or with neither basal nor terminal concentrations of leaves; rhizomatous. Helophytic to xerophytic. Leaves medium-sized to very large; alternate; distichous; commonly leathery (or rigid), or ; ambiguously petiolate to subsessile, or sessile; sheathing. Leaf sheaths with free margins. Leaves edgewise to the stem to with ‘normal’ orientation; simple. Leaf blades entire; flat, or folded; linear; linear (to filiform); parallel-veined; without cross-venules; sheathing. Leaves without stipules. Leaf anatomy. Hairs absent (blade). Extra-floral nectaries absent. Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening absent.
Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite.
Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in cymes, or in panicles. The terminal inflorescence unit cymose. Inflorescences scapiflorous, or not scapiflorous; terminal; cyme open, dichotomous, partially bracteate, few to many-flowered. Flowers pedicellate (articulate below the flower, filiform, terminal or solitary along the branches); bracteate (small or lower ones leafy), or ebracteate; ebracteolate; small to medium-sized; regular; 3 merous; cyclic; pentacyclic. Perigone tube present (short), or absent. Perianth of ‘tepals’, or with distinct calyx and corolla (dubiously); 6; 2 -whorled; isomerous; petaloid; similar in the two whorls, or different in the two whorls; blue. Calyx (if the outer whorl so designated) 3; 1 -whorled; polysepalous, or gamosepalous; regular, or unequal but not bilabiate. Corolla (if the inner whorl so designated) 3; 1 -whorled; polypetalous, or gamopetalous; unequal but not bilabiate, or regular; blue. Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 6. Androecial members free of the perianth; all equal; free of one another; 2 -whorled (3+3). Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 6; all more or less similar in shape; diplostemonous; hypogynous; alterniperianthial. Anthers basifixed; dehiscing via pores, or dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate. Pollen shed as single grains. Gynoecium 3 carpelled. The pistil 3 celled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth. Gynoecium syncarpous; eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary plurilocular; 3 locular; sessile. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; attenuate from the ovary; apical. Stigmas 1. Placentation axile. Ovules several or many; arillate, or non-arillate; anatropous.
Fruit and seed features. Fruit non-fleshy; dehiscent; a capsule. Capsules loculicidal, or septicidal (in the upper part). Fruit 3 celled; few. Seeds endospermic. Endosperm oily. Seeds wingless. Cotyledons 1. Testa encrusted with phytomelan.
Geography, cytology, number of species. About 30 species.
Etymology. From the Greek for "tow" and "man, stamen"; the stamens are woolly-tomentose.