Lily family

FORM Perennial herbs from rhizome, bulb, corm or tuber.

Genera 240   

Species  3000 in our area  104 (Gray); 106 (B&B)43

Distribution Global

Flowers radially symmetrical; flower ; - Usually 6 petals

#Parts  parts in 3’s, petals and sepals often similar 6tepals, 6 stamens 

Symmetry Regular – slightly irregular

Leaves Parallel-veined, basal, alternate or whorled

Family includes not only wild flowers but the cultivated plants – asparagus, onion, tulips hyacinths and many garden lilies. Native species tend to flower in the spring, those in the genus Lilium flower later.

This is a very large group and as would be expected there is much disagreement as to its limits. Walters et al 200669 provide a detailed discussion of the controversy pp 437ff.

Rickett42 breaks the family into seven groups as follows;

“I. Flowers (white or yellow) growing singly on stems that bear no leaves (though they may be sheathed by leaves): Erythronium.

II. Flowers (yellow or yellowish) hanging singly from the tips of leafy stems which often fork: Uvularia.

III. Flowers (not yellow) growing singly just above three net veined leaves: Trillium.

IV. Flowers (white, greenish, yellow, orange, pink, or red) mostly in umbels (in a few species singly) at the tips of stems which may or may not bear leaves. Several genera:

Allium has mostly narrow leaves with the odor of onions when crushed.

Nothoscoridum has a similar aspect but no odor.

Medeola has two circles of leaves on the stem, the upper circle of three small leaves.

Lilium Has leaves in circles or scattered; the flowers are large, yellow to orange or red, sometimes arising from the axils of leaves as well as from the summit of the stem, sometimes single at the summit.

Clintonia has broad leaves rising from the ground, none on the stem.

V. Flowers (white, greenish or pinkish) hanging singly or in twos and threes from the axils of the leaves; none in umbels: Polygonatum and Streptopus

VI. Flowers (white, yellow, orange, blue, or lavender) in spikes, racemes or much branched clusters. Numerous genera:

Smilacina has white flowers in a raceme (simple or branched) at the end of a leafy stem, generally arching.

Maianthemum has flower parts (white) in fours. The flowers are in a small raceme on a stem that bears two or three leaves.

Ornithogalum has a greenish streak in the center of each perianth part, which is otherwise white, grasslike leaves; the flowers are in a raceme.

Camassia has bluish or lavender flowers in simple racemes.

Melanthium has yellowish flowers in narrow, branched racemes. They turn brown.

Veratrum has greenish flowers in large branched racemes, and large leaves which are plaited lengthwise.

Chamaelirium has very numerous white flowers tightly crowded in a very long, narrow spike.

Stenanthium has numerous small white flowers in a branched spike like inflorescence. The leaves are grasslike, from the lower part of the stem.

Hemerocallis has large lilylike flowers, orange or yellow in a forking inflorescence, each flower lasting only one day.

VII. Flowers in umbels from the axils of leaves on generally climbing, twining stems, prickly in many species. Individual flowers lack either stamen or pistil: Smilax.