Habit and leaf form. Herbs (robust). Plants succulent, or non-succulent. Annual, or perennial (leaves perennial). Leaves basal (in Australia), or cauline. 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; flat; linear, or lanceolate, or ovate, or subulate (etc.); linear; parallel-veined; without cross-venules; tubular sheathing base present or absent. Leaves without stipules. Leaf blade margins irregularly papillose. Leaf anatomy. Hairs absent. 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 umbels (umbel-like, rarely), or in panicles. The terminal inflorescence unit racemose. Inflorescences scapiflorous; terminal; inflorescence divaricately branched, surrounded by membranous brown or purplish scales. Flowers pedicellate (obscurely articulate just beneath the flower, or not articulate); bracteate (membranous); 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, or green and white, or green, white, and yellow (with a conspicuous green nerve or yellow spots near the base). Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 6. Androecial members free of the perianth; all equal, or markedly unequal; 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; at the very base of the perianth segments; alterniperianthial. Anthers dorsifixed (usually); 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; capitate. Placentation axile. Ovules 2–16 per locule; arillate; hemianatropous.
Fruit and seed features. Fruit non-fleshy; dehiscent; a capsule. Capsules loculicidal. Fruit 6–48 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 "rough" and "man", in reference to the scabrid stamens.