Liliaceae

Liliaceae -- the lily family.

The family Liliaceae was first conceived in 1789. At one time, it comprised nearly 300 genera and 4500 species of plants. However, it was long recognized that it included a heterogeneous assortment of genera and was not a unitary whole. While various proposals had been made from time to time to segregate parts of the Lilaceae as smaller, more homomgeneous families, none of these proposals was widely accepted.

In the 1980s, following a variety of proposals for revision of the overall classification of angiosperms, Liliaceae came under more intense scrutiny. In the late 1980s, Kew Botanic Garden, the British Museum (Natural History), and the Edinburgh Botanical Garden formed a joint committee to examine the possibility of breaking up the Liliaceae as far as concerned the arrangement of their herbaria. The committee recommended the following families be used in place of the old, broadly defined Liliaceae:

  1. Alliaceae: Allium, Agapanthus, Brodiaea, Ipheion, Nothoscordum, Tulbaghia
  2. Aloeaceae
  3. Anthericaceae: Anthericum, Arthropodium, Chlorophytum, Thysanotus
  4. Aphyllanthaceae
  5. Asphodelaceae: Asphodeline, Asphodelus, Bulbine, Bulbinella, Eremurus, Kniphofia, Paradisea, Trachyandra
  6. Asparagaceae
  7. Asteliaceae
  8. Blandfordiaceae: Blandfordia
  9. Colchicaceae: Androcymbium, Bulbocodium, Colchicum, Gloriosa, Littonia, Merendera, Sandersonia
  10. Convallariaceae: Clintonia, Convallaria, Disporum, Maianthemum, Polygonatum, Uvularia
  11. Dracenaceae
  12. Eriospermaceae
  13. Hemerocallidaceae: Hemerocallis
  14. Herreriaceae
  15. Hostaceae
  16. Hyacinthaceae: Albuca, Bellevalia, Camassia, Chionodoxa, Galtonia, Hyacinthella, Hyacinthus, Lachenalia, Muscari, Ornithogalum, Polyxena, Puschkinia, Scilla, Urginea, Veltheimia
  17. Ixioliriaceae: Ixiolirion
  18. Liliaceae (sensu strictu): Calochortus, Cardiocrinum, Erythronium, Fritillaria, Gagea, Lilium, Lloydia, Nomocharis, Notholirion, Stenanthium, Tulipa
  19. Melanthiaceae: Amianthium, Veratrum, Zigadenus
  20. Philesiaceae
  21. Phormiaceae
  22. Ruscaceae
  23. Smilacaceae
  24. Trilliaceae: Paris, Scoliopus, Trillium

Note that this specific arrangement of genera in families has been superseded and is not the arrangement used for reference purposes in this wiki. Many of the genera listed are now considered to be in other families.

Reference: Mathew, Splitting the Liliaceae

This family used to be one of the largest “bulb” families until taxonomists proposed splitting it up and creating new narrower families. There is not agreement about some of this and you still see some of the genera in the new proposed families listed as being in the Liliaceae family. Some of the families with genera once considered to be in this family are Agavaceae, Alliaceae, Alstroemeriaceae, Anthericaceae, Asphodelaceae, Blandfordiaceae, Calochortaceae, Colchicaceae, Convallariaceae, Hyacinthaceae, Melanthiaceae, Tecophilaeaceae, and Trilliaceae.

Plants in this family have linear leaves, mostly with parallel veins, alternately placed at the base of the plant, although there are some species with opposite or whorled leaves. Flowers in this family are often showy, bisexual with flower parts in threes, (6 tepals and 6 stamens or fewer). The ovary is superior and is a 3 chambered carpel. The fruit is nearly always a capsule or a berry. Genera with wiki pages in the narrowed definition of Liliaceae are: Amana, Calochortus, Cardiocrinum, Clintonia, Erythronium, Fritillaria, Gagea, Lilium, Lloydia, Medeola, Nomocharis, Notholirion, Prosartes, Scoliopus, Tricyrtis, Tulipa.

All the former cormous genera that were once in this family from Mexico and Western North America have been moved to Themidaceae although some taxonomists suggest moving them back or placing them in Alliaceae. APG II optionally includes Themidaceae in Asparagaceae. In the Flora of North America they are still considered to belong in the Liliaceae family. Genera with wiki pages in this group are: Bessera, Bloomeria, Brodiaea, Dichelostemma, Milla, and Triteleia.


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Page last modified on February 17, 2011, at 10:35 AM