The lily family is one that is distinctly marked by its regular, symmetrical flowers. Its floral envelope is a perianth that is sometimes white or gaily coloured, but very rarely green. Almost invariably it is of six equal parts. There are six stamens with two-celled anthers, and a three-celled ovary that is free from the receptacle. The style is undivided. The leaves are entire and parallel-veined, or sometimes netted-veined.

The word lily would probably form as many different pictures in the mind as there were individuals to whom it had been presented. Some would at once recall the greenhouse calla, which, as has already been said, is no lily at all and a member of the arum family. Others would think of the pure resurrection lily and again others would think of the swarthy, upright tiger lily of the fields. The fragrant, drooping bells of the lily-of-the-valley would cling to the minds of many. But whatever the form of the lily that its name is associated with, it is invariably graceful and beautiful. As a family it is singularly without obnoxious qualities.