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..
Scapose or leafy-stemmed herbs, with simple or branched rootstocks, never with bulbs or corms. Flowers solitary, racemose, panicled or umbelled, regular and perfect. Leaves broad, parallel-veined and sometimes with cross-veinlets, alternate, verticillate or basal, or in Asparagus and its allies reduced to scales bearing filiform or flattened branchlets in their axils. Perianth inferior, 4-6-parted with separate segments, or oblong, cylindric or urn-shaped and 6-lobed or 6-toothed. Stamens 6, rarely 4, hypogynous or borne on the perianth; anthers introrsely, extrorsely or laterally dehiscent. Ovary 2-3-celled, superior; ovules anatropous or amphitropous; style slender or short; stigma mostly 3-lobed. Fruit a fleshy berry, rarely a capsule. Seeds few or numerous. Embryo small.
About 23 genera and 215 species, widely distributed.
Leaves reduced to scales; leaf-like bractlets filiform.
Leaves broad; stems simple or somewhat branched.
Leaves basal; flowers umbelled or solitary.
Leaves alternate (solitary in flowerless plants of no. 4).
Flowers racemed, umbelled, panicled or solitary, terminal.
Flowers racemed or panicled.
Flowers umbelled or solitary.
Fruit a berry.
Fruit a capsule.
Flowers solitary or two together, axillary.
Perianth cylindric or oblong, 6-toothed.
Leaves nearly basal; flowers racemed; perianth 6-toothed.