Tufted perennial herbs with bulbs encased by a tunic. Roots fibrous. Leaves all basal, annual, linear. Inflorescence an erect, scapose, corymbose or elongate raceme; flowers bisexual, each subtended by a membranous bract; perianth segments, free, spreading, subequal, ovate or lanceolate, thin- or thick-textured, white, yellow, orange or green, sometimes with a thin dark stripe; stamens 6, filaments simple or with a basal appendage, anthers versatile, dorsifixed, dehiscing introrsely by slits; ovary superior, 3-locular; ovules 2–many per locule; style absent to elongate, stigma minute, capitate to lobed. Fruit a loculicidal capsule; seeds numerous, globose, ovoid or angular, black.
About 160 species, in Europe, Africa and Asia Minor; several grown as garden specimens in Australia, 2 naturalized in Victoria.