Description from Flora of China
Herbs perennial (or shrubs or annuals), with rhizomes, bulbs, or corms. Leaves alternate, often 2-ranked, often oriented edgewise to aerial stem, usually sword-shaped to linear, parallel veined, base sheathing. Inflorescence sometimes a spike or reduced to a solitary flower, more often of monochasial, umbellate cymes, each enclosed in 2 opposed bracts (spathes) and termed a rhipidium, which may be solitary and terminal or numerous and variously arranged in racemes or panicles; bracts 1 to several. Flowers bisexual, showy, usually actinomorphic (often zygomorphic elsewhere). Perianth segments 6, in 2 whorls, inner and outer ones equal or differing in size and/or color; tube filiform or trumpet-shaped. Stamens (2 or)3; anthers extrorse. Ovary inferior (or superior), 3-loculed; ovules few to many; placentation axile. Style with filiform, slender, or petaloid branches. Fruit a loculicidal capsule. Seeds with or without aril and wings.
Zhao Yu-tang. 1985. Iridaceae. In: Pei Chien & Ting Chih-tsun, eds., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 16(1): 120--198.
Between 70 and 80 genera and ca. 1800 species: nearly worldwide, especially S Africa, Asia, and Europe; three genera and 61 species (21 endemic, one introduced) in China.
(Authors: Zhao Yutang (赵毓棠); Henry J. Noltie, Brian Mathew)