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The families of flowering plants

L. Watson and M.J. Dallwitz

Aphyllanthaceae G.T. Burnett

~ Former Liliaceae, Asparagaceae-Aphyllanthoideae of APG III.

Habit and leaf form. Rushlike herbs. Switch-plants. Leaves much reduced (to sheaths). Perennial; with a basal aggregation of leaves; shortly rhizomatous. Xerophytic. Leaves alternate; spiral; sheathing. Leaf sheaths with free margins. Leaves simple; exstipulate.

Leaf anatomy. Stomata anomocytic. The mesophyll containing crystals, or without crystals (? — raphides present in the stem cortex). The crystals raphides (?). Foliar vessels absent.

Axial (stem, wood) anatomy. Secondary thickening anomalous. The anomalous secondary thickening from a single cambial ring. The axial xylem without vessels.

Root anatomy. Root xylem with vessels; vessel end-walls scalariform and simple (mainly simple).

Reproductive type, pollination. Plants hermaphrodite. Floral nectaries present. Nectar secretion from the gynoecium (from septal nectaries).

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; when aggregated, in panicles (these reduced). Inflorescences scapiflorous; of 1–2(–3) flowers terminating each of the wiry, assimilatory scapes; with involucral bracts. Flowers bracteate (each flower enclosed by one or two free and five basally fused scales); ebracteolate; regular; 3 merous; cyclic; pentacyclic. Perigone tube present.

Perianth of ‘tepals’; 6; joined; 2 whorled (3+3); isomerous; petaloid; similar in the two whorls (the lobes narrowly elliptic-oblong); blue. Tepal apex trichomes (TAT) absent.

Androecium 6. Androecial members adnate (at the mouth of the perigone tube); free of one another; 2 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 6; diplostemonous. Anthers dorsifixed (epipeltate); dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate. The endothecial thickenings spiral. Microsporogenesis successive. Pollen grains aperturate; spiraperturate.

Gynoecium 3 carpelled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth. The pistil 3 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synstylovarious; superior. Ovary 3 locular. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; attenuate from the ovary; apical. Stylar canal present. Stigmas 3; dry type; papillate. Ovules 1 per locule; anatropous; crassinucellate. Endosperm formation helobial.

Fruit non-fleshy; dehiscent; a capsule. Capsules loculicidal. Seeds endospermic. Embryo well differentiated. Embryo straight; as long as the endosperm. Testa thinly encrusted with phytomelan; black.

Seedling. Hypocotyl internode present (short). Seedling collar not conspicuous. Cotyledon hyperphyll elongated; assimilatory; more or less circular in t.s. Coleoptile absent. Seedling cataphylls absent. First leaf centric. Primary root ephemeral.

Physiology, phytochemistry. Alkaloids absent. Saponins/sapogenins present. Proanthocyanidins absent. Flavonols absent. Ellagic acid absent.

Geography, cytology. Holarctic. West Mediterranean.

Taxonomy. Subclass Monocotyledonae. Dahlgren et al. Superorder Liliiflorae; Asparagales. APG 3 core angiosperms; Superorder Lilianae; non-commelinid Monocot; Order Asparagales (as a synonym of Asparagaceae).

Species 1 (Aphyllanthes monspeliensis). Genera 1; Aphyllanthes.

General remarks. According to the comparative data compililed for this package, differing from Asparagaceae sensu stricto (q.v.) in vegetative anatomy, embryology, pollen morphology and seedling form, as well as in conspicuous habit, inflorescence, gynoecium and fruit characters.

Illustrations. • Aphyllanthes monspeliensis: Nat. Pflanzenfam.II (1889). • Le Maout and Decaisne: Aphyllanthes. • Aphyllanthes monspeliensis: Bot. Mag. 27 (1808).


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: 24th October 2017. delta-intkey.com/angio’.

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