The ‘Lily families’ and all their uses; Liliaceae, Amaryllidaceae, (Alliaceae) and Colchicaceae!

‘Snowdrops’ and Spring is on its way! These are part of the large Lily-family-see below (by Matt Summers)

This and the next posts are about a number of native families which in the ‘Wild Flower Key’ is lumped together into the one Liliaceae.

But according to Stace this family is split into several families.

This is what he has to say about it:

‘It has long been known that Cronquist‘s very broad Liliaceae should be subdivided, some of the segregate families belonging to different orders. This has now been confirmed by molecular data; the taxa in our flora should be divided into at least the 9 families recognised here.’

The debate of native and non-native and what to include in my blog will be more and more difficult in future as rare endemics will not be known by many and certainly should not be ‘used’ in any way. Common, ornamental plants will be more accessible to all and get established in the wild more and more for everybody to use! They will become in fact our new ‘weeds’!

Click the links for more info and pictures from various websites. Scientific/Latin Name usually has link from the Online Atlas of the British Isles and Irish Flora. Pink background means a warning (such as poisonous!) or medicinal use, green for edible, ornamental or other uses and blue for habitat where it can be found in B.I. , for interesting facts or wildlife use.

We start of with the Liliaceae then, which in fact only has Fritillaria meleagris and 3 native species which are all in the genus Gagea.




  • Gagea lutea or Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem
  • Gagea bohemica or Early Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem
  • Gagea serotina (Syn. Lloydia  serotina) or Snowdon Lily


Fritillaria meleagris or Snake’s head Fritillary


Erythronium dens-canis or Dog’s-tooth-violet


  • Tulipa sylvestris or Wild Tulip
  • Tulipa gesneriana or Garden Tulip
  • Tulipa saxatilis or Cretan Tulip

Amaryllidaceae or Daffodil Family

The Allium or Onion Family (Alliaceae): 13 different varieties

  • Allium schoenoprasum or Chives
  • Allium ampeloprasum or Wild Leek or Babington’s Leek
  • Allium carinatum or Keeled Garlic
Allium cepa or Onion
  • Allium oleraceum or Field Garlic
  • Allium vineale or Wild Onion or Crow Garlic
  • Allium paradoxum or Few Flowered Garlic
Allium porrum or Leek
  • Allium roseum or Rosy Garlic
  • Allium sativum or Garlic
  • Allium scorodoprasum or Sand Leek or Rocambole
Allium ursinum or Wild Garlic/ Ramsons
  • Allium triquetrum or Three-cornered Leek


  • Leucojum aestivum or Summer Snowflake
  • Leucojum vernum or Spring Snowflake


  • Galanthus nivalis or Common Snowdrop
  • Galanthus elwesii or Greater Snowdrop
  • Galanthus ikariae or Ikaria Snowdrop
  • Galanthus plicatus and subsp byzantinus + subsp. plicatus or Pleated Snowdrop
  • Galanthus woronowii or Green Snowdrop


  • Narcissus pseudonarcissus or Wild Dafodill

Meadow Saffron

  • Colchicum autumnale or Meadow Saffron and Naked Lady
These ornamental lilies are not a native ! (Picture by Mike Poulton)
Continue reading “The ‘Lily families’ and all their uses; Liliaceae, Amaryllidaceae, (Alliaceae) and Colchicaceae!”