Sometimes included in Liliaceae.
Habit and leaf form. Herbs (tufted). Perennial (leaves annual). Leaves basal. Plants with a basal concentration of leaves, or with neither basal nor terminal concentrations of leaves. Young stems basal, herbaceous, short. Bulbaceous. Mesophytic. Leaves alternate; spiral, or distichous; ‘herbaceous’; sessile; sheathing; simple. Leaf blades entire; flat; linear, or lanceolate, or oblong, or ovate, or orbicular; linear (or narrowly linear); 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 perianth (from the inner tepals).
Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in umbels (of 1–5 flowers). The terminal inflorescence unit cymose. Inflorescences scapiflorous; terminal; scape simple, slender, erect, solid or hollow, leafless, flattened and 2-winged; with involucral bracts; spatheate (1–2, large, thin, boat-shaped). Flowers pedicellate; ebracteate; ebracteolate; regular; 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; green, or white, or pink (pale). Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 6. Androecial members free of the perianth, or adnate (to the tube); all equal; free of one another; 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; in a fleshy disc at the base of the perianth, 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 basifixed; versatile (usually), or non-versatile; dehiscing via pores (apical); 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; 1–3 - lobed; capitate. Placentation axile. Ovules several; non-arillate; anatropous.
Fruit and seed features. Fruit fleshy (somewhat succulent); dehiscent; a capsule. Capsules loculicidal. Fruit 20–100 seeded (many). Seeds endospermic. Endosperm oily. Seeds winged, or wingless. Cotyledons 1. Embryo straight. Testa encrusted with phytomelan, or without phytomelan.
Etymology. From the Greek name for a plant; from the words for "white" and "violet".