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Liliaceae: Lily Family Plant Characteristics

Liliaceae
Plants of the Lily Family

      Most showy monocot flowers with parts in threes belong to the Lily family or one of its allies. Lilies have 3 sepals and 3 petals, which are identical in size and color (often referred to as 6 tepals). There are 6 stamens, but some species lack anthers on some of the stamens. The overy is positioned superior and consists of 3 united carpels, as indicated by the same number of stigmas. Partition walls are present, forming an equal number of chambers. The ovary matures as a capsule or a berry with 3 to numerous seeds.

      Taxonomists have struggled with lily-like flowers, originally lumping them together as a conglomerate Lily family encompassing about 250 genera and 3,700 species. Numerous attempts were made to split the family into proper families and subfamilies based on actual relationships, resulting in many different classification schemes and up to 70 different proposed families. Blue camas (Camassia), for example, is listed in different sources as a member of the Lily family, Hyacinth family, Agave family, and now the Agave subfamily of the Asparagus family. The most newly defined families and subfamilies presumeably follow genetic lines and should be reasonably stable in the future. The redefined Lily family has been reduced to about 16 genera and 640 species. Many plants that were formerly included in the Lily family are not included in the Bunchflower, Amaryllis, and Asparagus families, so be sure to read about them for comparison.

Key Words: Flowers with parts in threes. Sepals and petals usually identical.

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Erythronium grandiflorum. Glacier Lily.

Erythronium grandiflorum. Glacier Lily.

Erythronium grandiflorum. Glacier Lily.

Erythronium grandiflorum. Glacier Lily.

Fritillaria atropurpurea. Chocolate Lily.

Fritillaria atropurpurea. Chocolate Lily.

Fritillaria atropurpurea. Chocolate Lily.

Fritillaria atropurpurea. Chocolate Lily.

Fritillaria pudica. Yellowbell.

Fritillaria pudica. Yellowbell.

Fritillaria pudica. Yellowbell.

Fritillaria pudica. Yellowbell.

Lilium columbianum. Columbia Tiger Lily.

Lilium columbianum. Columbia Tiger Lily.

Lilium columbianum. Columbia Tiger Lily.

Lilium columbianum. Columbia Tiger Lily.

Lilium lancifolium. Tiger Lily.

Lilium lancifolium. Tiger Lily. Photographed in New Zealand.

Medeola virginiana. Indian Cucumber.

Medeola virginiana. Indian Cucumber. Photo contributed by Christy Fitzsimmons.

Clintonia uniflora. Queen's Cup.

Clintonia uniflora. Queen's Cup. Glacier National Park. Montana.

Leucocrinum montanum. Sand Lily.

Leucocrinum montanum. Sand Lily. Tongue Reservoir. Eastern Montana.

Disporum hookeri. Hooker's Fairybell.

Disporum hookeri. Hooker's Fairybell.

Disporum smithii. Smith's Fairybells.

Disporum smithii. Smith's Fairybells. Photographed along the northern California coast.

Streptopus amplexifolius. Twisted Stalk.

Streptopus amplexifolius. Twisted Stalk.

 Streptopus amplexifolius. Twisted Stalk.

Streptopus amplexifolius. Twisted Stalk.

Calochortus lyallii. Lyall's Mariposa or Sego Lily.

Calochortus lyallii. Lyall's Mariposa or Sego Lily.

Calochortus lyallii. Lyall's Mariposa or Sego Lily.

Calochortus lyallii. Lyall's Mariposa or Sego Lily.

Calochortus apiculatus. Sego Lily.

Calochortus apiculatus. Sego Lily. Near Glacier National Park. Montana.

Calochortus eurycarpus. Sego Lily.

Calochortus eurycarpus. Sego Lily.

Calochortus nuttallii. Sego Lily.

Calochortus nuttallii. Sego Lily. Montana.

Calochortus nuttallii. Sego Lily.

Calochortus nuttallii. Sego Lily. Montana.

Calochortus macrocarpus. Sagebrush Sego lily.

Calochortus macrocarpus. Sagebrush Sego lily.

Foraging the Mountain West
Foraging the Mountain West

There are more
Lily Family pictures
at PlantSystematics.org.


Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
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Books
authored by
Thomas J. Elpel
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, andthe Blossoming of Human Spirit
Roadmap
to Reality
Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Living
Homes
Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
Participating
in Nature
Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
Mountain West
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
Botany
in a Day
Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids
Shanleya's
Quest

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