Erect, perennial herbs with rhizomes or corms. Leaves linear or almost so; sheathing, often distichous. Flowers regular or irregular, bisexual, enclosed individually or severally in a cyme within spathes, in spikes racemes or thyrses or solitary. Perianth segments 6, in 2 similar or subsimilar whorls, connate basally into a tube or free. Stamens 3, often adnate to the perianth; anthers dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Ovary inferior, 3-locular, with numerous ovules on axile placentas. Style filiform, 3-fid; branches entire or 2-fid, filiform dilated or petaloid. Fruit a capsule with numerous seeds. 67 gen., cool temp. to drier subtrop., particularly S. Africa.