DELTA
home

The families of flowering plants

L. Watson and M.J. Dallwitz

Anthericaceae J.G. Agardh

~ Former Liliaceae.

Including Boryaceae Chase, Rudall & 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 without conspicuous 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 borne edgewise to the stem (e.g. Johnsonia), or ‘normally orientated’; simple. Lamina entire; linear (usually), or lanceolate, or oblong, or ovate; parallel-veined; without cross-venules. Leaves ligulate (rarely), or eligulate. Lamina margins entire.

Leaf anatomy. The leaf lamina dorsiventral (commonly), or bifacial (e.g. Johnsonia). Stomata usually present; anomocytic. The mesophyll containing crystals. The crystals raphides. Foliar vessels where sought, absent.

Axial (stem, wood) anatomy. Secondary thickening absent. The axial xylem often with vessels.

The vessel end-walls scalariform (usually), or simple (rarely).

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

Reproductive type, pollination. 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 ultimate inflorescence units 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. 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). Tepal apex trichomes (TAT) present (Arthropodium, Chamaescilla Chlorophytum, Dichopogon, Murchisonia, Thysanotus), or absent (Alania, Arnocrinum, Caesia, Borya, Hensmania, Herpolirion, Hodgsoniola, Johnsonia, Laxmannia, Sowerbaea, Stawellia, Tricoryne). 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, phytochemistry. Inulin not found. Cyanogenic, or not cyanogenic. Alkaloids absent. Saponins/sapogenins present. Flavonols absent. Ellagic acid absent.

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

Taxonomy. Subclass Monocotyledonae. Dahlgren et al. Superorder Liliiflorae; Asparagales. APG 3 core angiosperms; Superorder Lilianae; non-commelinid Monocot; Order Asparagales.

Species about 250. Genera 22; Agrostocrinum, Alania, Anthericum, Arnocrinum, Arthropodium, Borya, Bottinaea, Caesia, Chlorophytum (Asparagaceae-Agavoideae: APG III), Chamaescilla (or Asparagaceae, or Asphodelaceae?!), Comospermum, Corynotheca (or Phormiaceae), Diamena, Dichopogon, Diora, Echeandia, Eremocrinum, Hagenbachia, Hensmania, Herpolirion (or Asparagaceae, or Asphodelaceae?!), Hodgsoniola, Johnsonia, Laxmannia, Leucocrinum (or Hostaceae), Murchisonia, Paradisea (or Asphodelaceae, or Hyacinthaceae?), Pasithea(?), Sowerbaea, Stawellia, Thysanotus, Trichopetalum, Tricoryne.

General remarks. Cavalier ‘re-circumscriptions’ of asparagoid lily families proposed by (for example) Chase et al (1996) involve reducing Anthericaceae to eight genera, extending Lomandraceae to 15 genera, raising Boryeae to family rank, etc. These and subsequent APG proposals may have taxonomic merit, but their practical implementation mostly requires completion of the work in the form of revised family descriptions (a labour which most modern ‘taxonomic researchers’ choose to avoid).

Illustrations. • Dichopogon strictus: Bot. Mag. 110 (1884). • Johnsonia lupulina: Bauer, Ill. Fl. Nov. Holl. (1813). • Johnsonia lupulina, inflorescence (photo). • Borya nitida, habitat and flowers (photo). • Sowerbaea laxiflora: Bot. Reg. 10, 1841. • Thysanotus patersonii (photo). • Thysanotus dichotomus: as T. intricatus, Bot. Reg. xxvi, 4 (1840). • Thysanotus juncifolius: Bot. Reg. 656, 1822. • Thysanotus multiflorus: as T. proliferus, Bot. Reg. XXIV, 8 (1838). • Thysanotus tenellus: as T. tenuis, Bot. Reg. XXIV, 50 (1838). • Thysanotus tuberosus: Bot. Reg. 655, 1822. • Arthropodium laxum (cf. A. strictum): Hooker, Fl. Tasmaniae (1860). • Caesia capensis, as Nanolirion: Hook. Ic. Pl. 18 (1888). • Chamaescilla corymbosa (as Caesia) and Herpolirion tasmaniae (= novae-zelandiae?): Hooker, Fl. Tasmaniae (1860). • Echeandia echiandioides, as Anthericum: Bot. Mag. 111 (1885).


We advise against extracting comparative information from the descriptions. This is much more easily achieved using the DELTA data files or 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 or lacking specified attributes, distributions of character states within any set of taxa, geographical distribution, genera included in each family, and classifications (Dahlgren; Dahlgren, Clifford, and Yeo; Cronquist; APG). See also Guidelines for using data taken from Web publications.


Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 1992 onwards. The families of flowering plants: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. Version: 12th September 2017. delta-intkey.com/angio’.

Contents