The Families of Flowering Plants

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Anthericaceae J.G. Agardh

~ Liliaceae

Including Boryaceae Chase, Rudall and Conran, Johnsoniaceae Lotsy, Laxmanniaceae

Excluding Anemarrhenaceae

Habit and leaf form. Herbs, or shrubs. ‘Normal’ plants, or switch-plants; the switch forms with the principal photosynthesizing function transferred to stems. Leaves much reduced (in some Australian genera), or well developed. Perennial; with a basal aggregation of leaves, or with neither basal nor terminal aggregations of leaves; cormous, or rhizomatous, or tuberous. Self supporting, or climbing; when climbing, stem twiners. Mesophytic, or xerophytic. Leaves evergreen, or deciduous; alternate; spiral (usually), or distichous (rarely); flat, or folded, or terete (or triquetrous); ‘herbaceous’, or leathery, or membranous; petiolate (rarely), or sessile; sheathing. Leaf sheaths not tubular; with free margins. Leaves edgewise to the stem (e.g. Johnsonia), or with ‘normal’ orientation; simple. Lamina neither inverted nor twisted through 90 degrees; entire; linear (usually), or lanceolate, or oblong, or ovate; parallel-veined; without cross-venules. Leaves ligulate (rarely), or eligulate. Lamina margins entire.

Leaf anatomy. Stomata usually present; anomocytic.

Lamina dorsiventral (commonly), or isobilateral (e.g. Johnsonia). The mesophyll containing calcium oxalate crystals. The mesophyll crystals raphides. Vessels where sought, absent.

Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening absent. Xylem often with vessels. Vessel end-walls scalariform (usually), or simple (rarely).

Root anatomy. Root xylem with vessels; vessel end-walls scalariform, or simple.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Plants hermaphrodite; viviparous (notably exemplified by the widely cultivated Chlorophytum comosum), or not viviparous. Floral nectaries present. Nectar secretion from the gynoecium (from septal nectaries).

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in panicles, in racemes, in spikes, in heads, and in umbels. The terminal inflorescence unit cymose, or racemose (simple or compound). Inflorescences scapiflorous; terminal; very varied, even including spikes resembling large grass spikelets in Johnsonia; with involucral bracts, or without involucral bracts; pseudanthial, or not pseudanthial; espatheate. Flowers small, or medium-sized; regular; 3 merous; cyclic; pentacyclic (usually), or tetracyclic. Perigone tube present, or absent.

Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla (the whorls sometimes rather different), or of ‘tepals’; 6; free, or joined (sometimes with a basal tube); 2 whorled (3+3); isomerous; petaloid; similar in the two whorls, or different in the two whorls; white, or red, or yellow, or blue, or violet (mostly white, yellow, blue, rose or violet). Calyx (if the outer whorl so interpreted) 3; 1 whorled; regular. Corolla (if the inner whorl so interpreted) 3; 1 whorled; regular. Petals sometimes fringed.

Androecium 6 (usually), or 3 (in several genera). Androecial members free of the perianth, or adnate (to the perianth); all equal, or markedly unequal; free of one another, or coherent; when joined, 1 adelphous (basally connate); 1 whorled, or 2 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens, or including staminodes (e.g. in Sowerbaea spp., Hodgsonia). Staminodes when present, 3. Stamens 3, or 6; isomerous with the perianth, or diplostemonous; alterniperianthial, or oppositiperianthial. Anthers dorsifixed, or basifixed; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate. The endothecial thickenings spiral. Microsporogenesis successive (usually), or simultaneous (e.g. Tricoryne). Pollen grains aperturate; 1 aperturate; sulcate (sometimes tri- or tetrachotomosulcate); 2-celled.

Gynoecium 3 carpelled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth. The pistil 3 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synstylovarious, or eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary 3 locular. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; almost ‘gynobasic’ (e.g. Trichoryne), or apical. Stigmas 2–3 lobed; usually dry type. Placentation axile. Ovules 2–50 per locule (to ‘many’); arillate (commonly), or non-arillate (e.g., Chlorophytum); campylotropous and amphitropous (rarely anatropous?); bitegmic; crassinucellate. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type. Polar nuclei fusing prior to fertilization. Antipodal cells formed; 3; not proliferating; ephemeral. Endosperm formation helobial.

Fruit non-fleshy; dehiscent (usually), or a schizocarp (rarely, e.g.Tricoryne). Mericarps in Trichoryne, 3. Fruit usually a capsule. Capsules denticidal, or septicidal and loculicidal, or loculicidal. Seeds endospermic; wingless. Cotyledons 1. Embryo achlorophyllous (2/2); straight to curved. Testa encrusted with phytomelan; black (mostly), or brown (sometimes, in species of Chlorophytum and Sowerbaea).

Seedling. Hypocotyl internode with Anemarrhena excluded, present (short to longish). Mesocotyl absent. Seedling collar not conspicuous. Cotyledon hyperphyll elongated, or compact; assimilatory, or non-assimilatory. Coleoptile present (e.g. Chlorophytum, Sowerbaea). Seedling cataphylls absent. First leaf centric, or dorsiventral. Primary root ephemeral.

Physiology, biochemistry. Cyanogenic, or not cyanogenic. Alkaloids absent. Flavonols absent. Ellagic acid absent. Saponins/sapogenins present.

Geography, cytology. Holarctic, Paleotropical, Neotropical, Cape, Australian, and Antarctic. Tropical (mostly). Widespread.

Taxonomy. Subclass Monocotyledonae. Superorder Liliiflorae; Asparagales. APG (1998) Monocot; non-commelinoid; Asparagales. Species about 250. Genera 22; Agrostocrinum, Alania, Anthericum, Arnocrinum, Arthropodium, Borya, Bottinaea, Caesia, Chlorophytum, Chamaescilla, Comospermum, Corynotheca (or Phormiaceae), Diamena, Dichopogon, Diora, Echeandia, Eremocrinum, Hagenbachia, Hensmania, Hodgsoniola, Johnsonia, Laxmannia, Leucocrinum (or Hostaceae), Murchisonia, Pasithea(?), Sowerbaea, Stawellia, Thysanotus, Trichopetalum, Tricoryne.

Cavalier ‘re-circumscriptions’ of asparagoid lily families proposed recently (see Chase et al, 1996) involve reducing Anthericaceae to eight genera, extending Lomandraceae to 15 genera, raising Boryeae to family rank, etc. These proposals may have taxonomic merit, but their practical implementation requires completion of the work in the form of adequate, revised family descriptions.

Illustrations. • Thysanotus patersonii. • Johnsonia lupulina, inflorescence. • Borya nitida, habitat and flowers.


This description is offered for casual browsing only. We strongly advise against extracting comparative information from it. This is much more easily achieved using the interactive key, which allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, summaries of attributes within groups of taxa, geographical distribution, genera included in each family, classifications (Dahlgren; Dahlgren, Clifford, and Yeo; Cronquist; APG), and notes on the APG classification.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 1992 onwards. The families of flowering plants: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. Version: 25th November 2008. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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