Bulbous perennial herbs. Roots fibrous. Leaves tufted, annual, sheathing at base. Inflorescence a scapose bracteate umbel or solitary flower, enclosed in bud by a papery spathe. Flowers bisexual; perianth segments equal, united below into a slender tube, free and spreading above, around the cylindric corona; stamens 6, inserted on perianth tube at 2 levels, filaments filiform, anthers basifixed or dorsifixed, dehiscing introrsely; ovary inferior, 3-locular; ovules many per locule; style filiform, stigma capitate or lobed. Fruit a capsule; seeds numerous, angular, black.
About 60 species, native to Europe and Asia but widely grown for ornament; 8 species naturalised in Australia, including numerous cultivars, 3 naturalised in Victoria. Numerous other species and cultivars are grown in horticulture in Victoria, and may persist in old abandoned gardens.