Perennial herbs; rootstock a corm or tuberous rhizome. Leaves 1–many in a basal rosette, sessile or subpetiolate, pubescent or glabrous, usually sheathing; venation parallel. Inflorescence axillary, spicate to corymbose, sometimes umbellate or flower solitary. Flowers bisexual, rarely unisexual, actinomorphic; perianth segments in 2 whorls of 2 or 3, subequal, free or shortly fused to form a tube; stamens in 2 whorls of 2 or 3, or 1 whorl of 3 opposite the inner tepals, basifixed to dorsifixed, usually sagittate or with basal lobes, dehiscing introrsely or latrorsely by longitudinal slits; ovary inferior, 1- or 3-locular, locules sometimes incompletely divided, appearing trilocular at base and unilocular at apex, sometimes beaked; ovules few–numerous per locule; style short, 3–6-lobed or grooved. Fruit a loculicidal or circumscissile capsule or fleshy and indehiscent, usually beaked; seeds globose to ellipsoid, usually with a distinct funicle.
7 genera and about 150 species, predominantly in the Southern Hemisphere; 4 genera and 17 species in Australia, 2 genera and 5 species in Victoria.