Perennials with bulbs or rhizomes. Aerial stem erect. Leaves alternate or apparently opposite, verticillate on the aerial stem, or crowded at the base, sessile or petiolate, usually venetion parallel, rarely reticulate. Inflorescence usually a raceme or cyme or umbelliform or flower solitary. Flowers often bracteate, bisexual, hypogynous, usually actinomorphic. Perianth infundibular or sometimes campanulate or tubular. Tepals 3 + 3, polyphyllous, whorls similar or different. Stamens 3 + 3, filaments free, sometimes epipetalous; anthers tetrasporangiate, linear to globose, dorsifixed, versatile or pseudo-basifixed. Pistil tricarpellary; ovary superior, generally trilocular, axile placentation, ovule anatropous, bitegmic. Style long to rudimentary, stigma trilobate or trifid. Fruit a loculicidal capsule or a berry. Seeds brown or pale, often flat, with or without a marginal wing, endosperm lacking starch.
A family consisting of 11 genera and about 550 species, distributed in Northern Hemisphere; represented in Pakistan by 7 genera and 47 species.
This issue is funded in part by the US National Science Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Acknowledgements: We are thankful to the Directors/ Curators of the following herbaria for herbarium and library facilities and for sending the specimens on loan: BM, BSD, E, G, K, KUH, LE, LINN, LIV, MIR, RAW, UPS, W and WU. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support from Russian Foundation for Basic Research (05-04-48669) provided to I. G. Levichev and financial support for this publication from the Andrew Mellon Foundation and National Science Foundation (DEB0103783), Washington, U.S.A., obtained through the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, USA. We are grateful to Professor Peter H. Raven of the Missouri Botanical Garden for his assistance in securing the support. We are extremely obliged to Stella Ross Craig and Joanne Langhorne for kindly permitting us to republish some of their illustrations.We are thankful to J. Edmondson, S. Ghazanfar, A. Haigh, D. Harris, C. Jarvis, R. Kamelin, L. Klimes, Brian Mathew, D. Nicholson, H. J. Noltie, S. Owens, A. Smith, J.-M. Tison and E. Vitek, for their kind help from time to time. Thanks are also due to N.N. Nadel for correction of Latin text and E. Bidois for partial correction of English text. Grateful thanks are due to Professor Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, Vice-Chancellor, University of Karachi and Professor Zafar Iqbal, Chairman, Department of Botany, University of Karachi for providing working facilities to the project and for their understanding and encouragement.