Habit and leaf form. Herbs; with coloured juice, or non-laticiferous and without coloured juice. Perennial (or ephemeral). Leaves basal and cauline. Plants with a basal concentration of leaves (leaves all radical); rhizomatous, or tuberous (globular with papery tunics). Rhizome and root tissues brightly red-pigmented, or not red-pigmented. In seasonally wet soils. Leaves medium-sized to large; alternate; distichous; leathery; sessile; sheathing. Leaf sheaths with free margins. Leaves edgewise to the stem, or with ‘normal’ orientation; simple; epulvinate. Leaf blades entire; solid (slightly grooved); linear (or ensiform); linear; parallel-veined; sheathing, dilated. Leaves without stipules. Leaf blade margins entire. Leaves with a persistent basal meristem, and basipetal development. Vernation conduplicate. Leaf anatomy. Guard-cells not ‘grass type’. 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 (via septal nectaries). Entomophilous, or ornithophilous, or pollinated by unusual means.
Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in cymes (loose or compact), or in heads (head-like). The terminal inflorescence unit cymose, or racemose. Inflorescences scapiflorous; terminal; inflorescence of 1-several flowers. Flowers bracteate (larger ones leafy, lanceolate or ovate, usually acute), or ebracteate; ebracteolate; regular; 3 merous; cyclic; tricyclic, or tetracyclic. Perigone tube present. Perianth of ‘tepals’; 6 (in 1 whorl); 1 -whorled; isomerous; petaloid; similar in the two whorls; green, or white, or pink (pinkish), or purple (purplish). Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 6. Androecial members adnate; all equal; free of one another; 2 -whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 6; all more or less similar in shape; diplostemonous; at the top of the perianth tube; alterniperianthial. Filaments appendiculate (minute, erect lateral points about the size of the anther, may be entire or lobed, coloured, exserted and conspicuous). Anthers dorsifixed, or basifixed; versatile, or non-versatile; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; unappendaged, or appendaged (apically, from the connective). Gynoecium 3 carpelled. The pistil 3 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; eu-syncarpous; superior (BD), or partly inferior (AP), or inferior (AP). Ovary plurilocular; 3 locular. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; when 3, partially joined; attenuate from the ovary, or from a depression at the top of the ovary; apical; much longer than the ovary at anthesis. Stigmas 1; capitate. Placentation axile. Ovules 10–80 per locule (per locule); non-arillate; orthotropous to hemianatropous.
Fruit and seed features. Fruit non-fleshy; dehiscent; a capsule. Capsules loculicidal. Fruit 3 celled. Seeds copiously endospermic. Endosperm oily. Seeds winged, or wingless. Cotyledons 1. Testa without phytomelan.
Etymology. From the Greek for "cloak" and "flower"; refers to the filament appendages which rise above the anthers.