Liliaceae : Lily Family


Scientific Name:

Kingdom: Plantae


Class: Monocoteldonae (one seed-leaf)

Family: Liliacea (Lily Family)

(Lat. form of 'leirion' the classical name for this family. Thought to be of celtic origin)

Genera: 5

Species: 6

Allium schoenoprasum

Lloydia serotina

Toffieldia coccinea

Tofiedlia pusilla

Veratrum viride

Zygadenus elegans

English Name(s):

Lily Family

Gwich'in Name:

Family Traits


  • Plants perennial herbaceous (not woody)
  • Ussually somewhat poisonous
  • Stems erect.
  • Flowers regular, perfect (both male and female parts), ussually showy
  • Flower parts in 3's though the sepals and petals ussually look the same and are sometimes called tepals and then come in 6. The stamens (male parts) also come in 6.

Natural History:

Family Size:

Note: The size and make up of Liliaceae family is not agreed upon by botinists. Some schemes would divide the Lily Family into up to 70 smaller families.


Genera: 250 (aprox)

Species: 3,700 (aprox)

North America:

Genera: 30 (aprox)

Species: ?


Genera: 8

Species: 11

Illustrated Key To Liliaceae Species

Allium schoenoprasum

Lloydia serotina

Tofieldia coccinea

Tofiedlia pusilla

Veratrum viride

Zygadenus elegans

Dicotomous Key To Liliaceae Species

A: Flowers numerous, borne at top of stem, ussually in tight cluster

  • B: Leaves linear (narrow)
    • C: Plant greater than 20cm tall up to 60cm tall, from under-ground bulb
    • C: Plant less than 20cm tall, from rhizome (stem-like root): (Genus: Tofieldia)
      • E: Stem lacking leaves, greenish; flowers yellowish green: T.pusilla
      • E. Stem with 1 or more bracts (small leaves), dark-coloured; Flowers purpluish: T.coccinea
  • B. Leaves wide: Veratrum viride

A: Flowers single (sometimes 2): Lloydia serotina


Allium: Wild Onions

(Allium was the classical Latin name for garlic)

Sulfenic acid gives onions thier distinctive odour. Cut or bruising the cells of Alium sps. releases this volatile acid into the air, causing burning of the eyes.

World= 300 sps.

N.A.= 80 sps.

Yukon= 1 sps.

Lloydia: Alp Lily

(named for Edward Loyd 1660-1709, director of the Oxford Museum)

World= ? sps.

N.A.= 1 sps.

Yukon= 1 sps.

Tofieldia: False Asphodel

(named for Thomas Tofield 1730-1779, an English botanist)

  • Plants tufted perennial herbs from short rhizomesu(nderground stems).
  • Leaves slender usually aranged in two rows mainly basal.
  • Flowers in spike like raceme, sepals same as petals.
  • Tepals (sepals+petals) whitish to yellowish or tinged dark red, persistent
  • Friuts are many seeded capsules with 3 cavities spliting open down the centre of each cavity.

World= ? sps.

N.A.= 6 sps.

Yukon= 3 sps.

Veratrum: False Hellebore

Species of this genus contain dangerous alkaloids that depres the nervious system resulting in a slower heart rate and lower blood presure. Considered medicinal but dangerious

World= 48 sps.

N.A.= 7 sps.

Yukon= 1 sps.

Zygadenus: Death Camas

(Gk. Zygon = a yolk + aden = a gland refering to the paired or yolked glands)

VERY POISONOUS: Species of this genus contain a toxic alkaloid that maybe twice as potent as strychnine.

World= 15 sps.

N.A.= 15 sps.

Yukon= 1 sps.

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