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This plant family of about 3,500 species, consists of mostly perennial herbs. These herbs tend to have narrow, parallel-veined leaves and underground storage organs such as rhizomes, bulbs, corms, or tubers. The fruit types are septicidal or loculicidal capsules, or berries. Some of the plants that make up the Liliaceae family are evergreen succulents such as Aloe and Haworthia, or vines such as Smilax.
Liliaceae flowers have:

  • 3 sepals and 3 petals that look alike
  • 6 stamens
  • a single pistil with a superior ovary of 3 fused carpels

There are many beneficial members in the Liliaceae family such as:

  • onion, shallot, garlic, and chives (all Allium spp) - used for food
  • colchicine and red squill - medicinal
  • day lily, tulip, and solomon's seal - ornamental

And there are some poisonious members such as

stagger-grass (Amianthemum)
lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria)
star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)
death camas (Zygadenus)
I like the chaliced lilies,
The heavy Eastern lilies,
The gorgeous tiger-lilies,
That in our gardens grow!
(T.B. Aldrich, 'Tiger-Lilies')


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Alysun Brown, Jeff Myers, Bill Michael, Merry Tapp, Denis Belusic
May 1996

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