Madonna lily Lilium candidum, copyright Zachi Evenor.

Belongs within: Liliales.
Contains: Disporum section Disporum.

The Liliaceae is a family of bulbous or rhizomatous monocotyledons that are most diverse in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The family has been used in a much broader sense in the past than currently; at its broadest, it included a large proportion of the taxa now classed elsewhere in the Liliales and Asparagales. Many species of Liliaceae are widely cultivated as ornamentals; prominent examples include various species of Lilium (lilies) or Tulipa (tulips). Lilium species grow to heights of two to six feet with the more or less funnel-shaped flowers produced in a raceme at the top of the stem. Fritillaria, the fritillaries, also have erect stems and often bear nodding flowers.

Disporum is a genus of rhizomatous herbs found in east Asia and North America.

Peeling the lily
Published 11 January 2011
Toad lily Tricyrtis hirta, photographed by André Karwath.

Pity the poor Liliaceae. At one time, the family stood as the repository for almost all monocots with large-petaled flowers except orchids. Over the years, successive reclassifications have steadily whittled it down until the current Liliaceae is left with a mere ten to sixteen or so genera (depending on whether or not the Calochortaceae are treated as a separate family) found in the Holarctic region. Of course, these genera still include such luminaries as Lilium (lilies) and Tulipa (tulips), so even in its minority the Liliaceae can still draw its share of attention.

Greig’s tulip Tulipa greigii growing wild in Kazakhstan, photographed by Rustem Vagapov. I have to admit that the thought of such horticultural wonders as tulips and orchids growing wild has always been a strange one to me.

Molecular studies of the Liliaceae have agreed on the monophyly of Liliaceae sensu stricto (excluding ‘Calochortaceae’) but differ on the relationships of the ‘Calochortaceae’, whether a monophyletic sister to Liliaceae s. s. (Patterson & Givnish 2002) or paraphyletic to the latter (Rønsted et al. 2005). Within Liliaceae s. s., there is a well-supported division between the Lilioideae and a small clade Medeoloideae. Whatever the phylogeny, it seems likely that the ancestor of the Liliaceae in the broad sense was a shade-loving, rhizomatous plant with broad reticulate leaves, as is characteristic of Medeoloideae and ‘Calochortaceae’ other than Calochortus (Patterson & Givnish 2002). Calochortus and Lilioideae independently became adapted to more open habitats, developing narrower leaves and bulbs instead of rhizomes (hence a more seasonal growing cycle). Both lineages also developed more showy flowers than their relatives (showy flowers are also found in the genus Tricyrtis, which may or may not be closely related to Calochortus) and replaced the berries of their ancestors with dehiscent capsules, so that their seeds became dispersed by wind instead of by animals. Again, capsules are also found in Tricyrtis, as well as in the genus Scoliopus that has distinctive fleshy capsules that are believed to encourage seed dispersal by ants (Patterson & Givnish 2002).

The Indian cucumber (because of its edible rhizome) Medeola virginiana, a North American representative of the forest-dwelling Medeloideae. Photo by David Smith.

As well as reproducing by seeds, some Liliaceae also reproduce asexually. A number of bulbiferous species produce bulbils, small lateral offshoots of the bulb. These may break off and grow into new plants elsewhere, generally when carried by the action of burrowing animals such as moles and mole-rats.

Systematics of Liliaceae

Characters (from the Angiosperm Phylogeny Website): Flavonols present, chelidonic acid absent; raphides absent; bracteole lateral; tepals often spotted; anthers often centrifixed; stigma dry (rarely wet); ovules 2-many/carpel, more or less pendulous, nucellar cap (0-)1-3 cells across; antipodal cells not multinucleate; testal cells all more or less thickened, some with brown contents; cotyledon more or less photosynthetic, bifacial, hypocotyl absent; x = 8.

|--Trillidium govanianumO88
|--Tricyrtis esquirolii (Léveillé) Hara 1988 (see below for synonymy)H88
|--Rohdea japonicaMH98
|--Androstephium breviflorumH93
|--Odontostomum hartwegiiH93
|--Scoliopus bigeloviiH93
|--Xerophyllum tenaxH93
|--Chionodoxa forbesiiV72, V09
|--Medeola virginianaV72
|--Cretovarium Stopes & Fujii 1910CBH93
|--Miyoshia Makino 1903KC01
|--Sternbergia luteaCC87
|--Ipheion Raf. 1837CC87
| `--*I. uniflorum (Graham) Rafinesque-Schmaltz 1837CC87 (see below for synonymy)
|--Herpolirion Hook. 1853ME70
| `--H. novae-zelandiae Hook. 1853 [incl. H. tasmaniae Hook. 1853]CC87
|--Enargea Banks & Solander 1788C06
| `--E. marginata [=Callixene marginata]C06
|--Agrostocrinum Muell. 1860CC87
| `--A. scabrum (Br.) Baillon 1894 (see below for synonymy)CC87
|--Baeometra Salisb. 1813CC87
| `--B. uniflora (Jacq.) Lewis 1941 [=Melanthium uniflorum Jacq. 1791; incl. *B. columellaris Salisb. 1813]CC87
|--Tripladenia Don 1839CC87
| `--*T. cunninghamii Don 1839 (see below for synonymy)CC87
|--Kuntheria Conran & Clifford 1987CC87
| `--*K. pedunculata (Muell.) Conran & Clifford 1987 [=Schelhammera pedunculata Muell. 1891]CC87
| |--N. bulbuliferumO88
| `--N. macrophyllumO88
|--Ypsilandra yunnanensisO88
| |--Y. y. var. yunnanensisO88
| `--Y. y. var. himalaicaO88
| |--T. calcareaCV06
| `--T. violaceaHE80
| |--C. cordatumT03
| `--C. giganteumHE80
| |--B. crocea [incl. B. crocea var. aurea, B. crocea var. montana]H93
| `--B. humilisH93
|--Drymophila Br. 1810 [Drymophileae]CC87
| |--*D. cyanocarpa Br. 1810CC87
| `--D. moorei Baker 1875 [incl. D. pyrrhocarpa Muell. 1875]CC87
|--Cyanella L. 1754CC87
| |--*C. hyacinthoides L. 1754 [incl. C. capensis L. 1762]CC87
| `--C. albaLY82
|--Murchisonia Brittan 1971 nec d’Archiac & Verneuil 1841 (ICZN) nec Engel 1896 (ICZN)CC87
| |--*M. fragrans Brittan 1971CC87
| `--M. volubilis Brittan in Jessop & Toelken 1986 (see below for synonymy)CC87
|--Hymenocallis Salisb. 1812CC87
| |--*H. littoralis (Jacq.) Salisb. 1812CC87
| `--H. caribaea (L.) Herbert 1821 [=Pancratium caribaeum L. 1753]CC87
|--Iphigenia Kunth 1843 nec Schumacher 1817 (ICZN)ME70
| |--*I. indica (L.) Kunth 1843 [=Melanthium indicum L. 1771, Anguillaria indica (L.) Br. 1810]CC87
| |--I. novae-zelandiae (Hooker) Baker 1879 [=Anguillaria novae-zelandiae Hooker in Kirk 1878]ME70
| `--I. stellataYG03
| |--U. grandifloraV72
| |--U. perfoliataV72
| `--U. sessilifoliaV72
|--Thelionema Henderson 1985CC87
| |--*T. caespitosum (Br.) Henderson 1985 (see below for synonymy)CC87
| |--T. grande (White) Henderson 1985 [=Stypandra grandis White 1946]CC87
| `--T. umbellatum (Br.) Henderson 1985 (see below for synonymy)CC87
|--Proiphys Herbert 1821 [incl. Eurycles Salisb. ex Schultes & Schultes in Roemer & Schultes 1830]CC87
| |--*P. amboinensis (L.) Herbert 1821 (see below for synonymy)CC87
| |--P. alba (Br.) Mabb. 1980 (see below for synonymy)CC87
| `--P. cunninghamii (Aiton ex Lindley) Mabb. 1980 (see below for synonymy)CC87
| |--S. purpureaO88
| |--S. racemosa [incl. S. racemosa var. amplexicaulis, S. racemosa var. glabra]H93
| |--S. stellata [incl. S. stellata var. sessilifolia]H93
| `--S. trifoliaV72
| |--T. gesnerianaTG88
| |--T. goulimyiY98
| |--T. oculus-solisC55
| `--T. sylvestrisC55
| |--M. clevelandii [=Bloomeria clevelandii]H93
| |--M. coronataH93
| |--M. maritimaH93
| `--M. transmontanaH93
| |--G. arvensisH91
| |--G. bracteolaris [incl. Ornithogalum glaucum Dethard. ex Schult.f. 1702]MGF04
| |--G. elegansO88
| |--G. fibrosaY98
| `--G. graecaPT98
|--Lloydia Salisb. 1812KC01
| |--L. flavonutansO88
| |--L. longiscapaO88
| `--L. serotinaO88
| |--L. s. var. serotinaO88
| `--L. s. var. parvaO88
| |--C. andrewsianaH93
| |--C. borealisDS04
| |--C. udensisO88
| | |--C. u. var. udensisO88
| | `--C. u. var. alpinaO88
| `--C. unifloraH93
| |--D. capitatum [incl. Brodiaea pulchella, D. pulchellum]H93
| | |--D. c. ssp. capitatum [incl. D. lacuna-vernalis]H93
| | `--D. c. ssp. pauciflorum [=Brodiaea pulchella var. pauciflora]H93
| |--D. congestumMGF04
| |--D. ida-maia [=Brodiaea ida-maia]H93
| |--D. multiflorum [=Brodiaea multiflora]H93
| |--D. × venustum [=Brodiaea venusta]H93
| `--D. volubile [=Brodiaea volubilis]H93
| |--S. amplexicauleH88
| |--S. amplexifoliusH93
| | |--S. a. var. amplexifoliusH93
| | `--S. a. var. americanus [incl. S. amplexifolius var. denticulatus]H93
| |--S. parasimplexO88
| |--S. roseusA16
| | |--S. r. var. roseusV72
| | |--S. r. var. longipesV72
| | `--S. r. var. perspectusV72
| `--S. simplexO88
|--Tricoryne Br. 1810CC87
| |--*T. simplex Br. 1810CC87
| |--T. anceps Br. 1810CC87
| | |--T. a. ssp. anceps [=T. anceps var. typica Domin 1915 (nom. inv.)]CC87
| | `--T. a. ssp. pterocaulon (Baker) Thongpukdee 1987 [=T. pterocaulon Baker 1876]CC87
| |--T. corynothecoides Keighery 1986CC87
| |--T. elatior Br. 1810CC87 (see below for synonymy)
| |--T. humilis Endl. in Lehmann 1846CC87
| |--T. muricata Baker 1876 [=T. anceps var. muricata (Baker) Domin 1915]CC87
| |--T. platyptera Reichb. 1871 (n. d.)CC87
| `--T. tenella Br. 1810 [incl. T. elatior var. caespitosa Diels 1904]CC87
|--Caesia Br. 1810CC87
| |--C. parviflora Br. 1810 [incl. Bidwellia glaucescens Herbert 1844]CC87
| | |--C. p. var. parviflora [incl. C. dichotomizans Gand. 1919]CC87
| | |--C. p. var. minor Henderson 1987 non C. micrantha var. minor Endl. in Lehmann 1846CC87
| | `--C. p. var. vittata (Br.) Henderson 1987 [=*C. vittata Br. 1810]CC87
| |--C. alpina Hook. 1859 [=Chlorophytum alpinum (Hook.) Benth. ex Baker 1876]CC87
| |--C. calliantha Henderson 1987CC87
| |--C. chlorantha Muell. 1858 [=C. vittata var. chlorantha (Muell.) Benth. 1878]CC87
| |--C. micrantha Lindley 1840 (see below for synonymy)CC87
| |--C. occidentalis Br. 1810 [=C. parviflora var. occidentalis (Br.) Domin 1915]CC87
| |--C. rigidifolia Muell. 1876CC87
| `--C. setifera Baker 1876CC87
|--Disporum Salisbury ex Don 1825 [incl. Drapiezia Blume 1827]H88
| | i. s.: D. luzoniense Merrill 1910H88
| |--D. sect. Prosartes (Don) Jones 1951 [=Prosartes Don 1839]H88
| | |--D. (sect *Prosartes) lanuginosumH88
| | `--+--D. maculatumH88 [incl. D. cahnaeV72]
| | `--+--D. hookeriH88 [incl. D. hookeri var. parvifoliumH93, D. hookeri var. trachyandrumH93]
| | | |--D. h. var. hookeriV72
| | | `--D. h. var. oreganumV72
| | `--+--D. smithiiH88
| | `--D. trachycarpumH88
| `--+--D. sect. DisporumH88
| |--D. sect. Ovalia Hara 1988 nec Ovalia Latreille in Griffith & Pidgeon 1833 (ICZN) nec Nalivkin 1937 (ICZN)H88
| | `--D. (sect. *Ovalia) ovale Ohwi 1931 [=Streptopus ovalis (Ohwi) Wang & Tang 1978]H88
| | |--D. o. f. ovaleH88
| | `--D. o. f. albiflorum (Lee & Lee) Hara 1988 [=D. ovale var. albiflorum Lee & Lee ex Lee 1979]H88
| `--D. sect. Paradisporum Hara 1988H88
| `--D. (sect. *Paradisporum) acuminatum Wright 1929H88
| |--E. albidumV72
| |--E. americanumV72
| | |--E. a. var. americanumV72
| | `--E. a. var. rubrum Farwell 1938V72
| |--E. californicumH93
| |--E. citrinum [incl. E. howellii]H93
| |--E. dens-canisV72
| |--E. grandiflorum [incl. E. grandiflorum var. pallidum]H93
| |--E. helenaeH93
| |--E. hendersoniiH93
| |--E. klamathenseH93
| |--E. multiscapoideumH93
| |--E. oregonum [incl. E. oregonum ssp. leucandrum]H93
| |--E. pluriflorumH93
| |--E. purpurascensH93
| |--E. pusaterii [=E. grandiflorum ssp. pusaterii]H93
| |--E. revolutumH93
| `--E. tuolumnenseH93
| |--B. appendiculataH93
| |--B. californicaH93
| | |--B. c. var. californicaH93
| | `--B. c. var. leptandraH93
| |--B. coronariaH93
| | |--B. c. ssp. coronariaH93
| | `--B. c. ssp. roseaH93
| |--B. elegansH93
| | |--B. e. ssp. elegans [inc. B. elegans var. australis, B. elegans var. mundula]H93
| | `--B. e. ssp. hooveriH93
| |--B. filifoliaH93
| |--B. insignisH93
| |--B. jolonensisH93
| |--B. kinkiensisH93
| |--B. minor [incl. B. minor var. nana]H93
| |--B. orcuttiiH93
| |--B. pallidaH93
| |--B. purdyiH93
| |--B. stellarisH93
| `--B. terrestrisH93
| |--B. t. ssp. terrestris [incl. B. coronaria var. macropoda]H93
| `--B. t. ssp. kernensis [=B. coronaria var. kernensis]H93
| |--T. bridgesii [=Brodiaea bridgesii]H93
| |--T. clementina [=Brodiaea clementina]H93
| |--T. crocea [=Brodiaea crocea]H93
| | |--T. c. var. croceaH93
| | `--T. c. var. modesta [=Brodiaea crocea var. modesta]H93
| |--T. dudleyi [=Brodiaea dudleyi]H93
| |--T. grandifloraH93
| | |--T. g. ssp. grandifloraH93
| | `--T. g. ssp. howellii [=Brodiaea douglasii var. howellii]H93
| |--T. hyacinthina [=Brodiaea hyacinthina]H93
| |--T. ixioides [incl. Brodiaea lutea]H93
| | |--T. i. ssp. ixioidesH93
| | |--T. i. ssp. anilina [=Brodiaea lutea var. analina (l. c.)]H93
| | |--T. i. ssp. cookii [=Brodiaea lutea var. cookii]H93
| | `--T. i. ssp. scabra [=Brodiaea lutea var. scabra]H93
| |--T. laxa [=Brodiaea laxa]H93
| |--T. lemmonaeMGF04
| |--T. lilacina [incl. Brodiaea hyacinthina var. greenei]H93
| |--T. lugens [=Brodiaea lugens]H93
| |--T. montana [incl. Brodiaea gracilis]H93
| |--T. peduncularis [=Brodiaea peduncularis]H93
| `--T. × versicolor [T. hyacinthina × T. ixioides ssp. ixioides]H93
| |--F. affinis [incl. F. lanceolata (nom. illeg.), F. phaeanthera]H93
| | |--F. a. var. affinisH93
| | `--F. a. var. trisulisH93
| |--F. agrestis [=F. biflora var. agrestis]H93
| |--F. atropurpureaH93
| |--F. bifloraH93
| | |--F. b. var. biflora [incl. F. roderickii]H93
| | `--F. b. var. inezianaH93
| |--F. brandegeiH93
| |--F. cirrhosaO88
| |--F. eastwoodiaeH93
| |--F. falcataH93
| |--F. glaucaH93
| |--F. liliaceaH93
| |--F. meleagrisC55
| |--F. micranthaH93
| |--F. ojaiensisH93
| |--F. pinetorumH93
| |--F. plurifloraH93
| |--F. pudicaH93
| |--F. purdyiH93
| |--F. recurva [incl. F. recurva var. coccinea]H93
| |--F. ruthenicaED02
| |--F. striataH93
| |--F. uva-vulpisKSM06
| `--F. virideaH93
`--Lilium L. 1753CC87
|--*L. candidum L. 1753CC87
|--L. bolanderiH93
|--L. canadenseV72
|--L. columbianumH93
|--L. formosanum Wallace 1891HE80
|--L. hansoniiD37
|--L. humboldtiiH93
| |--L. h. ssp. humboldtiiH93
| `--L. h. ssp. ocellatumH93
|--L. kelleyanumH93
|--L. kelloggiiH93
|--L. lancifolium Thunberg 1794HE80
|--L. longiflorumKSM06
|--L. × maculatumHE80
|--L. maritimumH93
|--L. martagonD37
|--L. michiganenseV72
|--L. nanumO88
| |--L. n. f. nanumO88
| `--L. n. f. flavidumO88
|--L. occidentaleH93
|--L. oxypetalumO88
|--L. pardalinumH93
| |--L. p. ssp. pardalinumH93
| |--L. p. ssp. pitkinenseH93
| |--L. p. ssp. shastense [=L. nevadense var. shastense]H93
| |--L. p. var. vollmeriH93
| `--L. p. var. wigginsiiH93
|--L. parryiH93
|--L. parvum [incl. L. parvum var. luteum]H93
|--L. philadelphicumV72
| | i. s.: L. p. f. flaviflorumV72
| | L. p. f. immaculatumV72
| |--L. p. var. philadelphicumV72
| `--L. p. var. andicum [incl. L. umbellatum]V72
|--L. pyrenaicumC55
|--L. regale Wilson 1913CD07
|--L. rubescensH93
|--L. superbum Linnaeus 1762CD07
|--L. tigrinum Ker-Gawler 1809HE80
|--L. tyrinumGM96
`--L. washingtonianumH93
|--L. w. ssp. washingtonianumH93
`--L. w. ssp. purpurascensH93

Agrostocrinum scabrum (Br.) Baillon 1894 [=Stypandra scabra Br. 1810, Arthropodium scabrum (Br.) Sprengel 1825, Caesia scabra (Br.) Baker 1876; incl. C. hirsuta Lindley 1840, *Agrostocrinum stypandroides Muell. 1860]CC87

Caesia micrantha Lindley 1840 [incl. C. cygnorum Gand. 1919, C. micrantha var. major Endl. in Lehmann 1846, C. micrantha var. minor Endl. in Lehmann 1846]CC87

*Ipheion uniflorum (Graham) Rafinesque-Schmaltz 1837CC87 [=Milla uniflora Graham 1833CC87, Brodiaea unifloraH93; incl. Triteleia uniflora Lindley 1830CC87]

Murchisonia volubilis Brittan in Jessop & Toelken 1986 [incl. Thysanotus patersonii var. exfimbriatus Black 1943 (nom. inv.)]CC87

Proiphys alba (Br.) Mabb. 1980 [=Calostemma album Br. 1810, Eurycles alba (Br.) Muell. 1889; incl. C. scott-sellickiana Bailey 1905]CC87

*Proiphys amboinensis (L.) Herbert 1821 [=Pancratium amboinense L. 1753, Cepa amboinensis (L.) Kuntze 1891, Eurycles amboinensis (L.) Lindley in Loudon 1829; incl. Pancratium australasicum, E. australasicus (Ker Gawler) Don in Loudon 1830, Pa. australe Sprengel 1825 (nom. illeg.), E. australis (Sprengel) Schultes & Schultes 1830 (nom. illeg.), *E. sylvestris Salisb. ex Schulters & Schultes 1830 (nom. illeg.)]CC87

Proiphys cunninghamii (Aiton ex Lindley) Mabb. 1980 [=Eurycles cunninghamii Aiton ex Lindley 1832, Cepa cunninghamii (Aiton ex Lindley) Kuntze 1891, Pancratium cunninghamii (Aiton ex Lindley) Steudel 1841; incl. Eurycles cunninghamii var. whittlei Bailey 1906]CC87

*Thelionema caespitosum (Br.) Henderson 1985 [=Stypandra caespitosa Br. 1810, Arthropodium caespitosum (Br.) Sprengel 1825; incl. S. caespitosa var. alba Ewart 1931, S. juncinella Gand. 1919]CC87

Thelionema umbellatum (Br.) Henderson 1985 [=Stypandra umbellata Br. 1810, Arthropodium umbellatum (Br.) Sprengel 1825, S. caespitosa var. umbellata (Br.) Muell. ex Moore & Betche 1893; incl. S. umbellata var. fraseri Baker 1876]CC87

Tricoryne elatior Br. 1810CC87 [incl. T. elatior var. decipiens Domin 1915CC87, T. elatior var. muricatula Domin 1915CC87, T. scabra Br. 1810CC87, T. elatior var. scabra (Br.) Baker 1876T87, T. elatior var. typica Domin 1915CC87]

Tricyrtis esquirolii (Léveillé) Hara 1988 [=Disporum esquirolii Léveillé 1907; incl. T. bakeri Koidzumi 1924, T. puberula Nakai & Kitagawa 1934]H88

*Tripladenia cunninghamii Don 1839 [=Kreysigia cunninghamii (Don) Muell. 1870; incl. Schelhammera multiflora Lodd. 1829 non Br. 1810, Kreisigia tripladenia Muell. 1874 (nom. illeg.)]CC87

*Type species of generic name indicated


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