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Perennial herbs with bulbs, tubers or rhizomes. Leaves simple, with parallel nerves. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, in cymes, spikes or umbels (in Amaryllidoideae), or flowers solitary, bracteate and often with one or few spathes (in Amaryllidoideae). Flowers bisexual, actinomorphic or zygomorphic, sometimes marcescent. Stamens 6, free or sometimes united into a false corona, often inserted at the mouth of the perigone-tube; Ovary inferior, 3-celled with axillary placentas; Fruit capsular, dehiscing either loculicidally or irregularly, or fruit a berry. Seeds globose or flattened, sometimes winged.


Asia-Tropical: Cosmopolitan: present
Cosmopolitan, with c. 80 genera and around 1000 species. In Malesia only 6 genera are indigenous or naturalized, but many others are cultivated in botanic and private gardens (see the list on p. 371).


The family is treated here in a broad sense, comprising the genera with an inferior ovary, i.e. excluding the Allioideae (= Alliaceae), which are characterized by a superior ovary. In Malesia there are no indigenous species of the latter family, which is treated elsewhere in this instalment (p. 375).
The Agavoideae (partly with an inferior ovary and partly with a superior one) are also excluded. The family Agavaceae has one indigenous genus in Malesia (Dracaena, including Pleomele).
In the Amaryllidaceae two subfamilies are here recognized which are often considered to be distinct families: the Amaryllidoideae (= Amaryllidaceae s.str.), with umbellate inflorescences and spathes, and the Hypoxidoideae (= Hypoxidaceae) which are never umbellate and are without spathes.
Haemodoraceae were treated by [and see ].