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What Is a Liliaceae?

A soft drink flavored with sarsaparilla.
Asparagus, an edible member of the liliaceae family.
Aloe vera plants, which are known for producing a gel that can treat burns, are a type of liliaceae.
Sarsaparilla, a member of the Liliaceae family.
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  • Written By: Lumara Lee
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Images By: Karandaev, Tatiana Belova, Sassyphotos, Brad P.
  • Last Modified Date: 14 April 2014
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Liliaceae is the botanical name for the lily family. All plants in the liliaceae family are perennials which die after flowering and come back every year. Most are herbaceous and don’t have woody stems. Many are ornamental plants with beautiful flowers, including amaryllis, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and true lilies. They most often multiply from seeds or bulb division.

Every plant in this family is a monocotyledon, which means the embryo inside the seed only has one cotyledon, or seed leaf. Most liliaceae have long, narrow leaves that grow from the base of the plant and contain parallel veins. The flowers typically have six petals and six stamens. Liliaceae is one of the largest plant families and contains over 4,000 species.

True lilies have showy, trumpet-shaped flowers atop long, slender stems. The tiger lily is one of the most popular. This orange flower is cultivated in many gardens, and is often seen growing wild in roadside ditches. The latter has earned it the nickname ditch lily. It blooms in midsummer and thrives when grown in thick patches.

Some plants in this family are edible and include onions, garlic, asparagus, leeks, chives, and sarsaparilla. Onions and garlic are edible bulbs, and the shoots of asparagus are eaten when young. Leeks and chives are similar to onions but have a milder flavor. Sarsaparilla is commonly used to flavor soft drinks.

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Aloe vera is a medicinal plant in the lily family that has many health benefits. Sap from the aloe vera plant is used in the treatment of eczema, small cuts, and skin rashes. The sap is a popular ingredient in cosmetics, moisturizers, lotions, soaps, and makeup remover. It is also used in shampoos and conditioners. The healing effects of aloe are so well known that many households keep a plant in the kitchen to treat burns.

The liliaceae family also contains other medicinal plants. Meadow saffron is often used to treat gout. The root of Solomon’s seal is brewed as a tea to treat indigestion, and used as a poultice for sores and cuts. Some believe that wearing an amulet containing Solomon’s seal will prevent fever and disease.

There are also a number of poisonous plants in the lily family. Lily-of-the-valley, a popular garden plant, is on the United States list of poisonous plants. Star-of-Bethlehem and bear grass are also toxic. One member of the liliaceae family is so deadly that it has earned the name death camas.

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