Sometimes included in Liliaceae.
Habit and leaf form. Herbs. Perennial (leaves annual). Leaves basal. Plants with a basal concentration of leaves, or with neither basal nor terminal concentrations of leaves. Young stems basal stem short and herbaceous. Bulbaceous. Mesophytic. Leaves alternate; distichous; ‘herbaceous’; sessile; sheathing; simple. Leaf blades entire; linear, or lanceolate, or oblong, or ovate, or orbicular; linear (broadly); parallel-veined; without cross-venules; sheathing. Leaves without stipules. Leaf blade margins entire. Leaves with a persistent basal meristem, and basipetal development. Leaf anatomy. Hairs 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.
Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in umbels. The terminal inflorescence unit cymose. Inflorescences scapiflorous; terminal; scape stout, solid, erect, 30–70 cm long, unbranched, leafless; inflorescence 2–12 flowered; with involucral bracts; spatheate (2-valved, deltoid). Flowers pedicellate; bracteolate (filiform); somewhat irregular (usually); when irregular, somewhat zygomorphic; 3 merous; cyclic; tetracyclic, or pentacyclic. Perigone tube present. Perianth of ‘tepals’; 6; 2 -whorled (3+3, but with a conspicuous ‘corona’, like an extra, inner whorl); isomerous; shortly joined; petaloid; similar in the two whorls; white to pink (bright). Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 6. Androecial members adnate; all equal; free of one another, or coherent; when joined 1 - adelphous; nearly always 2 -whorled (3+3). Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens (at least, reduction to staminodes not mentioned by Dahlgren et al. 1985). Stamens 6 (in 2 whorls); all more or less similar in shape; isomerous with the perianth (rarely), or diplostemonous; at the rim of the perianth tube opposite the segments; alterniperianthial; filantherous (the filaments sometimes appendaged alongside the anthers). Filaments appendiculate (the connate filaments sometimes expanded to form a staminal corona), 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; inferior. Ovary plurilocular; 3 locular. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; apical. Stigmas 1; 3 - lobed; capitate. Placentation axile. Ovules 20–50 per locule (many); non-arillate; anatropous.
Fruit and seed features. Fruit fleshy, or non-fleshy; dehiscent; a capsule. Capsules splitting irregularly (rupture at maturity), or loculicidal. Fruit few. Seeds endospermic. Endosperm oily. Seeds winged, or wingless. Cotyledons 1. Embryo straight. Testa encrusted with phytomelan, or without phytomelan.
Etymology. After a shepherdess in Greek mythology.