Herbs, annual or perennial [or biennial], scapose, from swollen rhizomes. Leaves numerous, basal; blade linear, cylindrical [or flat], base membranous, sheathing, margins entire. Scape hollow [or solid]. Inflorescences racemose or paniculate, many-flowered, bracteate; bracts persistent, narrowly lanceolate, scarious. Flowers: tepals 6, erect to spreading, distinct or barely connate basally, equal, each with single prominent vein; stamens 6, distinct, subequal [or equal], shorter than tepals; filaments expanded at base; anthers dorsifixed; ovary 3-locular, ovules 1 or 2 per locule; septal nectaries present; style 1; stigma weakly 3-lobed; pedicel articulate. Fruits capsular, globose, hard, dehiscence loculicidal. Seeds 3 or 6, black, angled [or winged]. x = 13, 14.
Introduced; sw Europe, n Africa, sw Asia (India), widely introduced elsewhere.
Species 12 (1 in the flora).
Sometimes placed in the segregate family Asphodelaceae, Asphodelus occurs mainly throughout the Mediterranean region, the Middle and Near East, and central Asia. Asphodelus ramosus Linnaeus has been collected once in the flora from ballast in New Jersey in 1879.