Asparagaceae is a family that in the past has been considered to contain only a few genera of perennials usually with tuberous roots, what looks like leaves that are needle like and white starry flowers with 6 tepals and stamens and a 3 chambered ovary. The fruit is a red or black berry. The principal genus in this narrowed view is Asparagus.
APG II in 2003 proposed expanding this family optionally to include other families, many of which were once included in Liliaceae. Under this proposed system this family consists of monocots with flowers arranged in racemes with the exception of Themidaceae which has umbels, but plants in this family have many bracts where the other broad group Alliaceae has umbels and only two bracts. In AGP III and IV, the idea of optional inclusion was given up, and Asparagaceae was confirmed as one of the central most important families of monocots. As this new system contradicts older literature in many ways, we list as much of older alliances as possible. Many old families live on as subfamilies, but even those have been largely rearranged and more than once renamed. All of this may sound confusing to the practical gardenener who is used to morphologic classifications but seems well based on phylogenetic studies.
Subfamily Agavoideae has grown considerably compared to former Agavaceae, and also includes species from former Anemarrhenaceae, Anthericaceae, Behniaceae, Chlorogalaceae, Herreriaceae, Hesperocallidaceae, Hostaceae and Yuccaceae. It has grown from the former restriction to succulent plants and now reaches from true bulbs like Camassia to stem-forming species like the joshua tree Yucca brevifolia.
|Genera of Subfamily Agavoideae on the PBS wiki|
|Agave||Anthericum||Bravoa -> Agave||Camassia||Chlorogalum|
|Chlorophytum||Echeandia||Hesperocallis||Leucocrinum||Manfreda -> Agave|
|Paradisea||Polianthes -> Agave||Prochnyanthes -> Agave|
Subfamily Aphyllanthoideae, former Aphyllanthaceae, only consists of the blue flowering Aphyllanthes monspeliensis, a Mediterranean endemic.
Subfamily Asperagoideae contains the former strict definition of Asperagaceae with Asperagus and Hemiphylacus, which formerly was found in Asphodelaceae.
Subfamily Brodiaeoideae contains former Themidaceae. It is a group of cormous plants at home in western North America which have been separated out of Alliaceae as one of the first steps of modern reorganisation of monocots.
|Genera of Subfamily Brodiaeoideae on the PBS wiki|
|Androstephium||Behria, sometimes in Bessera||Bessera||Bloomeria||Brodiaea|
Subfamily Lomandroideae contains former Laxmanniaceae and parts of Anthericaceae.
|Genera of Subfamily Lomandroideae on the PBS wiki|
|Genera of Subfamily Nolinoideae on the PBS wiki|
Subfamily Scilloideae contains former Hyacinthaceae, which have been rather consistent as a group (besides the early removal of species like Camassia), but have seen a considerable shake-up of genera within.
|Genera of Subfamily Scilloideae on the PBS wiki|