Characteristics and economic importance of family Liliaceae

  • This family is commonly known as Lily family.
  • These plants are normally grown or cultivated for vegetable purpose.
  • The plants are found in temperate and tropical regions. They are perennial with pungent flower due to the presence of sulfur compound.
  • They are normally herbs or shrubs and rarely trees.

Roots: The roots are normally adventitious or fibrous but may be tuberous as in case of Asparagus.


  • The stem is aerial or underground, erect, reduced and weak.
  • Underground stem is fleshy (e.g. corms), rhizomes (e.g. Gloriosa), bulbs (eg. Onions, garlic) etc.
  • In some cases, the branches are modified into green, leaf like flattened structures called phylloclades or cladodes.


  • Leaves are radical, ramal or cauline and alternate.
  • They are hollow, simple, sessile and
  • Foliage leaves are absent and replaced by scale leaves in some cases.
  • The bases of foliage leaves are fleshy, non-green and overlapping to form a bulb like structure in onion.
  • Leaves are with parallel venation in most plants but Smilax has reticulate venation.


  • Aggregation of many monochasial cyme in umbellate form and borne on a leafless scape.


  • Bracteate or ebracteate, incomplete or complete, bisexual or unisexual
  • Pedicellate,  hypogynous, actinomorphic, trimerous
  • The flowers are generally small and white in color.


  • Six tepals are arranged in two alternating whorls of 3 each.
  • Poly- or gamophyllous, petaloid, white with green midrib and are inferior


  • Six stamens are present, antipetalous polyandrous and epiphyllous
  • Stamens are arranged opposite the perianth or tepals.
  • Filament long but slightly dilated at the base
  • Anther is long, bilobed and basifixed.


  • Tricarpellary syncarpous, ovary is superior and trilocular.
  • Axile placentation, style is single and stigma is trilobed and capitate.

Fruit: Capsule or berry

Floral diagram with floral formula (Allium cepa or onion):

Some important plants of the family:

  • Allium cepa (onion)
  • Allium sativa (garlic)
  • Asparagus officinalis (garden asparagus)
  • Ruscus aculeatus (butcher’s broom)
  • Aloe vera
  • Similax ovalifolia (kumarika)
  • Gloriosa superba (flame lily)
  • Asphodelus tenuifolius (common weed)
  • Yucca olaifolia (dagger plant)

Economic importance:

  • Allium cepa, Allium sativa, Asparagus officinalis are commonly used as vegetables and for enhancing flavor in vegetables.
  • Gloriosa, Asparagus, Ruscus are used for ornamental purpose.
  • Smilax, Urginer indica, Asparagus are used as medicinal plants.
  • Yucca and Agave are used to yield fibers. The fibers are taken out from the leaves.
  • Lilium is an annual herb cultivated in gardens for ornamental purpose.

Characteristics and economic importance of family Liliaceae