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Bulbs of the World

The Colchicum Family: Colchicaceae

The Colchicaceae is the colchicum family. The plants grow from underground corms covered in tough papery tunics. The flowers have 3 styles that are free, rather than united into a single stalk. There are six tepal segments: 3 petals and 3 sepals. Each of the 6 anthers is attached at the base of one of the tepal segments. The most familiar genus in this family may be Colchicum, native to Eurasia. Bulbocodium is a genus closely related to Colchicum. Merendera is a genus with Colchicum-like flowers that grows in the Mediterranean, North African, and Middle Eastern areas. The genus Androcymbium is found in the Mediterranean and southward through South Africa. The genus Gloriosa contains the gaudy, vining Gloriosa Lily, which is native to southern Africa. Other genera in this family include Baeometra, Littonia, Onixotis, Sandersonia, and Wurmbea.

The older usage of the family Liliaceae was an all-inclusive collection of plants that are considered in most recent classifications to belong to many families in at least two orders, Asparagales and Liliales. The Colchicaceae are still considered part of the Liliales, but separate from the Liliaceae.

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James E. Shields,
Last revised: 16 November 2011
© Copyright 2011 by James E. Shields. All rights reserved.