Shrubby rosetted plants, often with branched woody stems. Leaves basal or on upper parts of branches, sessile, lanceolate, margins entire or denticulate, sometimes shedding elongate fibres at margin, apex usually spine-tipped. Inflorescence a terminal panicle or raceme, often extending beyond the leaves. Flowers bisexual, white or cream, sometimes tinged green or purple, usually pendent; perianth campanulate, free or fused at base; stamens 6, filaments flattened; ovary superior, 3- or imperfectly 6-locular, 6-lobed; style usually short and thick, stigma 3-lobed. Fruit a capsule or fleshy and berry-like; seeds many per locule, usually black, flattened or obovoid.
About 40 species, from Northern and Central America, 2 species naturalised in Australia, 1 naturalised in Victoria.