Plants herbs, shrubs, or trees, containing anthroquinones, rhizomatous or not, rhizomes yellow when cut. Leaves basal or cauline, usually spirally arranged, thin to fleshy or occasionally subterete, bases sheathing, entire or toothed. Inflorescences simple, branched, branches often racemose. Flowers bracteate, usually radially symmetric, sometimes 2-lipped, bisexual, white, yellow, pink, or red; tepals 6, free or united into a tube; stamens 6, free; filaments linear, glabrous or hairy; anthers with 2 thecae, dorsifixed, longitudinally dehiscent; ovaries superior, 3-celled, ovules 2-many per cell; styles simple, slender. Fruits usually loculical capsules; seeds sometimes arillate, with a straight embryo, endospermous.
The Asphodelaceae family, as interpreted here, includes Aloaceae. The expansion is recommended by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group.
The description above was developed from Thulin's accounts of the Asphodelaceae s.s. and Aloaceae in the Flora of Somalia.