This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol1", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Perennial herbs, with creeping or horizontal rootstocks, fibrous roots, erect simple stems and linear grass-like basal leaves, those of the stem short and distant. Flowers small, greenish-yellow, perfect, borne in a terminal raceme. Pedicels bracted at base and usually bearing a small bractlet. Perianth-segments persistent, linear or linear-lanceolate, obscurely 3-5-nerved, glandless. Stamens 6; filaments subulate, woolly; anthers linear-oblong, erect, introrse. Ovary sessile; style very short or none; stigma slightly 3-lobed. Capsule oblong, loculicidally dehiscent, many-seeded, the linear seeds tailed at each end. [Greek, signifying without step, the plants reputed to cause lameness in cattle.]
Four known species, natives of the northern hemisphere. Besides the following, another occurs in northwestern America. Type species: Anthericum ossifragum L.
Narthecium amcricatium Ker, Bot. Mag. pl. 1505. 1812. Narthecium ossifragum var. americanum A. Gray, Man. Ed.
5, 536. 1867. Abama americana Morong, Mem. Torr. Club 5: 109. 1894.
Glabrous, stems wiry, stiff, erect, io'-i8' tall.. Basal leaves 3'-8' long, 1" wide or less, finely 7-9-nerved; lower stem leaves 1/2'-2' long, the upper much smaller; raceme 1'-2' long, dense; perianth-segments narrowly linear, 2."-3' long, slightly exceeding the stamens; filaments white-woolly; pedicels ascending, 3"-4" long in fruit; capsule about 5" long, 1" in diameter at the middle, erect, nearly twice as long as the perianth-segments, tapering to a subulate beak; seeds, including the appendages, 3 -4" long.
XEROPHYLLUM Michx. Fl. Bor. Am. 1: 210. 1803.
Tall perennial herbs, with thick short woody rootstocks, simple erect leafy stems, the leaves narrowly linear, rough-margined, the upper ones shorter than the lower. Flowers very numerous, medium-sized, white, in a large dense terminal raceme, the lower ones first expanding. Perianth withering-persistent, its segments oblong or ovate, 5-7-nerved, spreading, glandless. Stamens 6, rather shorter than the perianth-segments; filaments subulate, glabrous; anthers oblong. Ovary sessile, 3-grooved; styles 3, filiform, reflexed or recurved, stigmatic along the inner side; ovules only 2-4 in each cell. Capsule ovoid, 3-grooved, loculicidally and sometimes also septicidally dehiscent. Seeds 5, oblong, not at all appendaged, or only minutely so. [Greek, signifying a dry leaf.]
Three species, the following, which is the type of the genus, the others of western America.
Helonias asphodeloides L. Sp. PI. Ed. 2, 485. 1762. X. seiifolium Michx. Fl. Bor. Am. 1: 211. 1803. Xerophyllum asphodeloides Nutt. Gen. 1: 235. 1818.
Stem stout, becoming stiff, 22°-5° tall, densely leafy below and at the base, sparsely leafy above. Leaves very narrowly linear, slightly dilated at the base, the lower 6'-18' long, 1" wide or less, except at the broader base, the upper successively shorter and narrower; flowering raceme 3'-6' long, 2'-3' in diameter, its summit conic; flowering pedicels spreading, filiform, 9"-i" long, in fruit erect; perianth-segments ovate-oblong, obtuse, about 3' long; styles rather longer than the ovary; capsule ellipsoid, 2" long, 1"-1 1/2" in diameter; seeds mostly 2 in each cell.
In dry pine barrens, southern New Jersey to eastern Tennessee and Florida. May-July. Ascends to 5000 ft. in North Carolina.