Bulbous, rarely rhizomatous perennial herbs. Leaves simple, basal, sessile (often sheathing at base); venation parallel. Inflorescence umbellate or flowers solitary, usually pedunculate, subtended by bracts. Flowers bisexual, actinomorphic to slightly zygomorphic. Perianth in 2 whorls of 3, outer and inner whorls similar, often fused for at least some of their length, sometimes surmounted by a corona. Stamens free or fused to perianth, 6, filaments free or connate, opposite perianth lobes; anthers 2-locular, dehiscing by longitudinal slits or rarely by apical pores. Ovary inferior, half-inferior or superior, usually 3-locular with axile placentation; ovules 1–many per locule; style single, stigma 3-lobed or capitate. Fruit a capsule or fleshy and indehiscent; seeds globular to flattened, often angular, rarely winged.
About 73 genera with c. 1605 species world-wide, concentrated in tropical and subtropical regions; c. 16 genera and 50 species in Australia, 11 genera and 18 species (mostly naturalised) in Victoria.