Sometimes included in Liliaceae.
Habit and leaf form. Herbs; evergreen, or deciduous. ‘Normal’ plants, or switch-plants; the switch forms with the principal photosynthesizing function transferred to stems. Leaves well developed, or much reduced (scales). Perennial. Leaves basal, or basal and cauline. Plants with a basal concentration of leaves, or with neither basal nor terminal concentrations of leaves. Young stems cylindrical. Rhizomatous (short). Self supporting, or climbing. Mesophytic, or xerophytic. Leaves alternate; spiral, or distichous; ‘herbaceous’, or leathery, or membranous; sessile; sheathing. Leaf sheaths not tubular; with free margins. Leaves edgewise to the stem, or with ‘normal’ orientation; simple. Leaf blades entire; flat, or folded, or solid (or triquetrous); linear, or lanceolate, or oblong, or ovate; ovate, or linear; parallel-veined; without cross-venules; sheathing. Leaves ligulate, or eligulate; without stipules. Leaf blade margins entire. Leaf anatomy. Hairs present (sparsely), or absent. Extra-floral nectaries absent. Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening absent.
Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite. Floral nectaries present. Nectar secretion from the gynoecium (from septal nectaries).
Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in umbels (or umbel-like). The terminal inflorescence unit cymose, or racemose (simple or compound). Inflorescences scapiflorous; terminal; flowering axis bracteate, branched, each branch ending in an inflorescence; with involucral bracts (bracts larger, leaflike or not leaflike, empty of flowers); pseudanthial, or not pseudanthial. Flowers pedicellate (articulate above the middle or at the apex); bracteate (1 subtends each flower, inconspicuous, small, imbricate, scarious); ebracteolate; small, or medium-sized; regular; 3 merous; cyclic; pentacyclic, or tetracyclic. Perigone tube absent. Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla (the whorls rather different), or of ‘tepals’; 6; 2 -whorled (3+3); isomerous; free; petaloid; similar in the two whorls, or different in the two whorls; yellow. Calyx (if the outer whorl so interpreted) 3; 1 -whorled; regular. Corolla (if the inner whorl so interpreted) 3; 1 -whorled; regular. Corolla members sometimes fringed. Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 6. Androecial members free of the perianth, or adnate (to the perianth); all equal; free of one another; 1 -whorled, or 2 -whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens, or including staminodes. Staminodes when present, 3. Stamens 6 (in 2 whorls); all more or less similar in shape; isomerous with the perianth, or diplostemonous; hypogynous, on the receptacle, at the base of the perianth; alterniperianthial, or oppositiperianthial. Filaments hairy. Anthers dorsifixed (near the base), or basifixed (top of the filament in the short tubular base of the anther); dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate. Gynoecium 3 carpelled. The pistil 3 celled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth. Gynoecium syncarpous; synstylovarious, or eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary plurilocular; 3 locular; sessile. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; nearly ‘gynobasic’ (near the base of the nearly free locules). Stigmas 1; 2–3 - lobed. Placentation axile. Ovules 2 per locule (or few); arillate, or non-arillate; campylotropous (generally), or anatropous.
Fruit and seed features. Fruit fleshy (slightly), or non-fleshy; a schizocarp. Mericarps 1–3; more or less globular, pale or black, crustaceous, striate. Fruit 1 seeded (per locule). Seeds endospermic. Cotyledons 1. Embryo straight to curved.
Additional characters Pollen grains trichotomosulcate.