LILIACEAE - Lily Family

Herbaceous perennials from rhizomes, corms or bulbs

Leaves alternate, simple, linear

Flowers bisexual and actinomorphic in a variety of inflorescences


In some treatments, this family is treated as two and sometimes many more. The major split is the Liliaceae (superior ovary) and Amaryllidaceae (inferior ovary). However, inferior vs. superior ovaries is not considered sufficient difference to warrant recognition of two separate families by A. Cronquist. However, the current trend is to split the Liliaceae up into numerous families, including Smilacaceae, Agavaceae, Trilliaceae, Asparagaceae, Alliaceae, etc.


The Liliaceae in the broad sense (unsplit) contains 280 genera and 4000 species.

Common genera:
Lilium - Lily
Tulipa - tulip
Asparagus
Allium
- onion, garlic, leek, chives
Narcissus - daffodil
Trillium - popular wildlflower
Colchicum - autumn Crocus - produces colchicine

Economic uses: Large number of ornamentals, onion family (leeks, garlic, shallots)

Diagnostic characteristics: Herbaceous perennials with showy flowers, anthers opening by lengthwise slits


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