Small perennial herb, leaves and flowers annual; corm globose to bell-shaped, outer layers hard and smooth, brown. Leaves few, basal, thread-like, terete, flat or compressed in section; rarely 1 or 2 cauline leaves on a short stem. Inflorescence 1–several, shorter than leaves, each with a single terminal flower subtended by 2 subequal primary bracts. Flowers opening in sunlight and closing at night, erect, actinomorphic, perianth tube short, narrowly funnel-shaped, lobes equal, spreading, narrowly elliptic to obovate; stamens free, symmetrically arranged around the style, anthers linear, basifixed, included; style branches deeply divided, thread-like, extending beyond or between the stamens. Capsule oblong to ovoid, partly enclosed by primary bracts; seeds numerous, compressed-globose.
About 90 species, in southern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean region and southwestern Europe; 4 species naturalised in Australia, 3 in Victoria (all native to southern Africa).