Common name. Gladioli. Family Iridaceae.
Habit and leaf form. Herbs (small to large); evergreen, or deciduous. Perennial (annual leaves and flowers). Leaves basal and cauline (mainly basal). Plants with a basal concentration of leaves, or with neither basal nor terminal concentrations of leaves; cormous (small to medium, ovoid or globose or flattened; tunic fibrous to papery). Helophytic to xerophytic. Leaves alternate; distichous; ‘herbaceous’, or leathery; sessile; sheathing. Leaf sheaths with free margins. Leaves foetid, or without marked odour; edgewise to the stem, or with ‘normal’ orientation; simple; epulvinate. Leaf blades entire; flat (basal), or solid (basal); terete (basal); linear, or lanceolate; narrowly elliptic (basal), or linear (to ensiform, basal), or ovate; parallel-veined; without cross-venules; open or closed sheaths. Leaves eligulate; without stipules. Leaf blade margins entire (basal). 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, or absent. Nectar secretion from the perianth (from nectaries at the tepal bases). Entomophilous, or ornithophilous, or anemophilous.
Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in spikes (or spike-like). The terminal inflorescence unit cymose, or racemose. Inflorescences terminal; scape erect, usually with a few reduced leaves or with none; inflorescence unbranched or branched, never flexuose, secund or distichous; spatheate (2 per flower, short, herbaceous, entire, acute). Flowers sessile; bracteate (2 per flower, spathe-like, persistent, inserted at the base of the ovary, large, green, herbaceous, keeled; apex sometimes dry or membranous; inner bract shorter than the outer and shortly divided). Bracts persistent. Flowers small to large; regular (outside Australia), or very irregular; when irregular, zygomorphic; 3 merous; cyclic; tetracyclic. Perigone tube present. Free hypanthium well developed. Perianth of ‘tepals’; 6; 2 -whorled; isomerous; petaloid; without spots, or spotted; similar in the two whorls, or different in the two whorls; green, or white, or cream, or pink (or lilac). Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 3. Androecial members adnate; all equal; free of one another; 1 -whorled (representing the outer whorl). Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 3; all more or less similar in shape; reduced in number relative to the adjacent perianth to isomerous with the perianth; on the perianth tube at the base of the wider part opposite the outer perianth segments; alterniperianthial (opposite the outer perianth lobes). Anthers basifixed; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; extrorse. Gynoecium 3 carpelled. The pistil 3 celled. Gynoecium partly petaloid, or non-petaloid; syncarpous; synstylovarious; inferior. Ovary plurilocular; 3 locular. The ‘odd’ carpel anterior. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; apical. Stigmas 3. Placentation axile. Ovules 20–50 per locule (many); arillate, or non-arillate; anatropous.
Fruit and seed features. Fruit non-fleshy (papery to leathery); dehiscent; a capsule. Capsules loculicidal (from the apex). Fruit 3 celled; 20–100 seeded (many). Seeds endospermic. Endosperm oily. Cotyledons 1 (coleoptile-like). Embryo straight (small). Testa without phytomelan.
Etymology. From the Latin for "a short sword"; also the Roman name for a species of this genus; in reference to the shape of the leaf.
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