Common name. Asphodel. Family Asphodelaceae.
Habit and leaf form. Herbs. Plants succulent, or non-succulent. Annual, or perennial. Leaves basal. Plants with a basal concentration of leaves; rhizomatous, or tuberous. Helophytic, or mesophytic, or xerophytic. Leaves small to very large; alternate; spiral, or distichous; ‘herbaceous’, or leathery, or fleshy, or leathery and fleshy; sessile; sheathing. Leaf sheaths with free margins. Leaves simple. Leaf blades entire; solid; terete, or semi-terete, or solid/angular; linear, or lanceolate, or ovate, or subulate (etc.); linear; parallel-veined; without cross-venules; sheathing. Leaves without stipules. Leaf blade margins entire, or serrate, or dentate (and often with an apical spine). Leaf anatomy. Hairs absent (minutely scabrid). Extra-floral nectaries absent. Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening absent, or anomalous; when present, from a single cambial ring. Roots. Roots with velamen, or without velamen.
Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite. Floral nectaries present. Nectar secretion from the gynoecium (via septal nectaries).
Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in racemes, or in panicles. The terminal inflorescence unit racemose. Inflorescences scapiflorous; terminal; scape simple or branched, bracteate, not enclosed by tubular scales, hollow; flowers several per inflorescence. Flowers pedicellate (articulate near the middle); bracteate (1 subtends each flower, membranous, a broad base with a long acuminate apex); ebracteolate; small to large; regular; 3 merous; cyclic; pentacyclic. Perigone tube present, or absent. Free hypanthium very short. Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla, or of ‘tepals’; 6; 2 -whorled (3+3); isomerous; free, or joined; petaloid; similar in the two whorls, or different in the two whorls; white and purple, or white and brown (with brown or purple stripe), or pink. 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 (in 2 whorls); all more or less similar in shape; diplostemonous; alterniperianthial. Anthers dorsifixed; versatile; 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; apical. Stigmas 1; 3 - lobed. Placentation axile. Ovules 2 per locule; arillate; nearly anatropous, or orthotropous.
Fruit and seed features. Fruit non-fleshy; dehiscent; a capsule. Capsules loculicidal. Fruit 6 seeded. Seeds endospermic. Endosperm oily. Seeds winged, or wingless. Embryo well differentiated. Cotyledons 1. Embryo straight. Testa encrusted with phytomelan.
Etymology. From the Greek for asphodel, the immortal flower in Elysium; applied to several species of this genus and, by Pliny, to A. ramosus.