The families of flowering plants.                                                                                                                                                                

Anthericaceae J.G. Agardh



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~ Former Liliaceae, a hotch-potch of families and subfamilies according to APG

IncludingBoryaceae Chase, Rudall & Conran, Johnsoniaceae Lotsy, LaxmanniaceaeExcludingAnemarrhenaceae

Habit and leaf form. Herbs, or shrubs. ‘Normal’ plants, or switch-plants; the switch forms with the principal photosynthesizing function transferred to stems. Leaves much reduced (in some Australian genera), or well developed. Perennial; with a basal aggregation of leaves, or with neither basal nor terminal aggregations of leaves; cormous, or rhizomatous, or tuberous. Self supporting, or climbing; when climbing, stem twiners. Mesophytic, or xerophytic. Leaves evergreen, or deciduous; alternate; spiral (usually), or distichous (rarely); flat, or folded, or terete (or triquetrous); ‘herbaceous’, or leathery, or membranous; petiolate (rarely), or sessile; sheathing. Leaf sheaths not tubular; with free margins. Leaves edgewise to the stem (e.g. Johnsonia), or with ‘normal’ orientation; simple. Lamina neither inverted nor twisted through 90 degrees; entire; linear (usually), or lanceolate, or oblong, or ovate; parallel-veined; without cross-venules. Leaves ligulate (rarely), or eligulate. Lamina margins entire.

Leaf anatomy. Stomata usually present; anomocytic.

Lamina dorsiventral (commonly), or isobilateral (e.g. Johnsonia). The mesophyll containing calcium oxalate crystals. The mesophyll crystals raphides. Vessels where sought, absent.

Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening absent. Xylem often with vessels. Vessel end-walls scalariform (usually), or simple (rarely).

Root anatomy. Root xylem with vessels; vessel end-walls scalariform, or simple.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowershermaphrodite. Plants hermaphrodite; viviparous (notably exemplified by the widely cultivated Chlorophytum comosum), or not viviparous. Floral nectaries present. Nectar secretion from the gynoecium (from septal nectaries).

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in panicles, in racemes, in spikes, in heads, and in umbels. The ultimate inflorescence unit cymose, or racemose (simple or compound). Inflorescences scapiflorous; terminal; very varied, even including spikes resembling large grass spikelets in Johnsonia; with involucral bracts, or without involucral bracts; pseudanthial, or not pseudanthial; espatheate. Flowers small, or medium-sized; regular; 3 merous; cyclic; pentacyclic (usually), or tetracyclic. Perigone tube present, or absent.

Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla (the whorls sometimes rather different), or of ‘tepals’; 6; free, or joined (sometimes with a basal tube); 2 whorled (3+3); isomerous; petaloid; similar in the two whorls, or different in the two whorls; white, or red, or yellow, or blue, or violet (mostly white, yellow, blue, rose or violet). Calyx (if the outer whorl so interpreted) 3; 1 whorled; regular. Corolla (if the inner whorl so interpreted) 3; 1 whorled; regular. Petals sometimes fringed.

Androecium 6 (usually), or 3 (in several genera). Androecial members free of the perianth, or adnate (to the perianth); all equal, or markedly unequal; free of one another, or coherent; when joined, 1 adelphous (basally connate); 1 whorled, or 2 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens, or including staminodes (e.g. in Sowerbaea spp., Hodgsonia). Staminodes when present, 3. Stamens3, or 6; isomerous with the perianth, or diplostemonous; alterniperianthial, or oppositiperianthial. Anthers dorsifixed, or basifixed; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate. The endothecial thickenings spiral. Microsporogenesis successive (usually), or simultaneous (e.g. Tricoryne). Pollen grains aperturate; 1 aperturate; sulcate (sometimes tri- or tetrachotomosulcate); 2-celled.

Gynoecium 3 carpelled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth. The pistil 3 celled.Gynoecium syncarpous; synstylovarious, or eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary 3 locular. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; almost ‘gynobasic’ (e.g. Trichoryne), or apical. Stigmas 2–3 lobed; usually dry type. Placentation axile. Ovules 2–50 per locule (to ‘many’); arillate (commonly), or non-arillate (e.g., Chlorophytum);campylotropous and amphitropous (rarely anatropous?); bitegmic; crassinucellate.Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type. Polar nuclei fusing prior to fertilization. Antipodal cells formed; 3; not proliferating; ephemeral. Endosperm formation helobial.

Fruit non-fleshy; dehiscent (usually), or a schizocarp (rarely, e.g.Tricoryne). Mericarps in Trichoryne, 3. Fruit usually a capsule. Capsules denticidal, or septicidal and loculicidal, or loculicidal. Seeds endospermic; wingless. Cotyledons 1. Embryo achlorophyllous (2/2); straight to curved. Testa encrusted with phytomelan; black (mostly), or brown (sometimes, in species of Chlorophytum and Sowerbaea).

Seedling.Hypocotyl internode with Anemarrhena excluded, present (short to longish). Mesocotyl absent. Seedling collar not conspicuous. Cotyledon hyperphyll elongated, or compact; assimilatory, or non-assimilatory. Coleoptile present (e.g. Chlorophytum, Sowerbaea). Seedling cataphylls absent. First leaf centric, or dorsiventral. Primary root ephemeral.

Physiology, biochemistry. Cyanogenic, or not cyanogenic. Alkaloids absent. Flavonols absent. Ellagic acid absent. Saponins/sapogeninspresent.

Geography, cytology. Holarctic, Paleotropical, Neotropical, Cape, Australian, and Antarctic. Tropical (mostly). Widespread.

Taxonomy.Subclass Monocotyledonae. Dahlgren et al. Superorder Liliiflorae; Asparagales. APG 3 core angiosperms; Superorder Lilianae; non-commelinid Monocot; Order Asparagales.

Species about 250. Genera 22; Agrostocrinum, Alania, Anthericum, Arnocrinum,Arthropodium, Borya, Bottinaea, Caesia, Chlorophytum (Asparagaceae-Agavoideae: APG III), Chamaescilla, Comospermum, Corynotheca (or Phormiaceae), Diamena, Dichopogon, Diora, Echeandia,Eremocrinum, Hagenbachia, Hensmania, Herpolirion, Hodgsoniola,Johnsonia, Laxmannia, Leucocrinum (or Hostaceae), Murchisonia,Paradisea (or Asphodelaceae, or Hyacinthaceae?), Pasithea(?), Sowerbaea,Stawellia, Thysanotus, Trichopetalum, Tricoryne.

General remarks. Cavalier ‘re-circumscriptions’ of asparagoid lily families proposed recently (see Chase et al, 1996) involve reducing Anthericaceae to eight genera, extending Lomandraceae to 15 genera, raising Boryeae to family rank, etc. These and subsequent APG proposals may have taxonomic merit, but their practical implementation mostly requires completion of the work in the form of revised family descriptions.


  • Johnsonia lupulina, inflorescence (photo).
  • Borya nitida, habitat and flowers (photo).
  • Sowerbaea laxiflora: Bot. Reg. 10, 1841.
  • Thysanotus patersonii (photo).
  • Thysanotus dichotomus: as T. intricatus, Bot. Reg. xxvi, 4 (1840).
  • Thysanotus juncifolius: Bot. Reg. 656, 1822.
  • Thysanotus multiflorus: as T. proliferus, Bot. Reg. XXIV, 8 (1838).
  • Thysanotus tenellus: as T. tenuis, Bot. Reg. XXIV, 50 (1838).
  • Thysanotus tuberosus: Bot. Reg. 655, 1822.
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