Sometimes included in Liliaceae-Scilloideae.
Habit and leaf form. Herbs. Perennial (leaves sometimes withering by flowering time). Leaves basal (often in a rosette). Plants with a basal concentration of leaves; bulbaceous (surrounded by a scaly or membranous tunic; usually numerous bulbils). Mesophytic. Leaves alternate; spiral; sessile; sheathing. Leaf sheaths with free margins. Leaves simple. Leaf blades entire; flat, or solid; terete; linear, or lanceolate, or ovate, or orbicular; parallel-veined; without cross-venules; sheathing. Leaves without stipules. Leaf blade margins entire (entire). Leaf anatomy. Hairs absent. 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 racemes. The terminal inflorescence unit racemose. Inflorescences scapiflorous; terminal; inflorescence with a bracteate leafless scape, well exserted beyond the leaves. Flowers pedicellate (short or up to 7 cm long); bracteate (1 subtends each flower, not exceeding the pedicels, broad at the base, long tapering point); ebracteolate; small, or medium-sized; regular; 3 merous; cyclic; pentacyclic. Perigone tube present, or absent. Perianth of ‘tepals’; 6; 2 -whorled; isomerous; petaloid; similar in the two whorls, or different in the two whorls; white to yellow, or green to yellow (with a green median stripe). Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 3, or 6. Androecial members free of the perianth, or adnate (to the tube); filaments of outer staminodes about as long as inner stamens; free of one another; 2 -whorled, or 1 -whorled (sometimes). Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens, or including staminodes (in the Perth region). Staminodes 3 (when the outer whorl is sterile or reduced or absent, 0 when the outer whorl is fertile). Stamens 3, or 6 (6 in 2 whorls); distinctly dissimilar in shape (when the outer whorl is sterile the anthers may be minute or absent); diplostemonous, or isomerous with the perianth; alterniperianthial, or oppositiperianthial; filantherous (the filaments often broad and flat). Filaments appendiculate, or not appendiculate. Anthers dorsifixed; versatile; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate. 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, or from a depression at the top of the ovary; apical. Stigmas 1; 3 - lobed; capitate. Placentation axile. Ovules 20–50 per locule (numerous); arillate, or non-arillate; anatropous.
Fruit and seed features. Fruit non-fleshy; dehiscent; a capsule. Capsules usually loculicidal, or septicidal. Fruit 20–100 seeded (many per cell). Seeds endospermic. Endosperm oily. Cotyledons 1. Embryo straight, or curved. Testa encrusted with phytomelan, or without phytomelan.
Etymology. From the Latin for "white", in reference to the white flowers.