This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Herbs having bulbous, tuberous, rhizomatous or fibrous roots, or very rarely shrubs or trees. Leaves usually narrow, with parallel veins, rarely net-veined. Inflorescence various. Flowers usually showy and hermaphrodite. Perianth inferior; segments commonly 6, all alike, nearly free or united in a tube. Stamens 6, anthers turned inwards. Styles usually united to the top. Fruit superior, 3-celled, many-seeded, capsular or fleshy; seeds albuminous. This 'order furnishes a great proportion of the most brilliant of hardy petaloid monocotyledons. It contains about 100 genera and 1,500 species. The limits of this order are by no means satisfactorily defined, and this remark applies with still greater force in respect to genera and species. Some systematists include here the genera referred by others to orders bearing the names Melanthaceae, Smilaceae, Trillaceae, and Philesiaceae. Those included in the two last-mentioned groups will be found placed at the end of this order.