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Allium ursinum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Allioideae
Type genus
Allium L.

Alliaceae J.G. Agardh

Allioideae is a subfamily of monocot flowering plants in the family Amaryllidaceae, order Asparagales. It was formerly treated as a separate family, Alliaceae.[2] The subfamily name is derived from the generic name of the type genus, Allium. It is composed of eighteen genera.


The subfamily contains both well known garden plants, but also weeds, such as Nothoscordum.[3]



In 1985, Dahlgren, Clifford, and Yeo defined their Alliaceae to include all of the genera that are now there, plus Agapanthus and a group of genera that are now placed in Themidaceae, or its equivalent, the subfamily Brodiaeoideae of Asparagaceae.[4] They divided Alliaceae into three subfamilies: Agapanthoideae, Allioideae, and Gilliesioideae. Agapanthoideae consisted of Agapanthus and Tulbaghia. Allioideae contained two tribes: Brodiaeeae and a broadly defined Allieae. Gilliesioideae was composed of about half of the genera now placed in Gilliesieae, the rest being assigned to Allieae.

In 1996, a molecular phylogenetic study of the rbcL gene showed that Agapanthus was misplaced in Alliaceae, and the authors excluded it from the family.[5] They also raised Brodiaeeae to family rank as Themidaceae. They reduced the tribe Allieae to two genera, Allium and Milula, and transferred the rest of Allieae to Gilliesieae. This is the circumscription which the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group accepted in the APG classification of 1998 and which later became known as Alliaceae sensu stricto.

In the APG II system of 2003, Alliaceae could be recognized sensu stricto or sensu lato, as mentioned above. Soon after the publication of APG II, the ICBN conserved the name Amaryllidaceae for the family that had been called Alliaceae sensu lato in APG II.

When the APG III system was published in 2009, the alternative circumscriptions were discontinued and Alliaceae was no longer recognized. Alliaceae sensu stricto became the subfamily Allioideae of Amaryllidaceae sensu lato.[2] Some botanists have not strictly followed the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group and have recognized the smaller version of Alliaceae at family rank.[6][7] Successive revisions of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG) classification have changed the circumscription of the family. In the 1998 version, Alliaceae were a distinct family; in the 2003 version, combining the Alliaceae with the Agapanthaceae and the Amaryllidaceae sensu stricto was recommended but optional; in the 2009 version, only the broad circumscription of the Amaryllidaceae is allowed, with the Alliaceae reduced to a subfamily, Allioideae.[2]

Quite a few of the plants that were once included in family Alliaceae have been assigned to the subfamily Brodiaeoideae (rather than the subfamily Allioideae).[2]

The largest genera are Allium (260-690 species), Nothoscordum (25), and Tulbaghia (22).[8] Some of the generic limits are not clear. Ipheion, Nothoscordum, and possibly others are not monophyletic.[9]


Allioideae is divided into four tribes: Allieae, Tulbaghieae, Gilliesieae and Leucocoryneae.[2] The first three correspond to the three subfamilies under the older Alliaceae family (Alliodiae, Tulbaghioideae and Gilliesioideae). Leucocoryneae was added in 2014 by dividing Gilliesieae into two separate tribes, corresponding to the original tribes within Gilliesioideae, elevating Iphiae nom. nud. to tribe Leucocoryneae.[10]

Allieae contains only one genus Allium (Milula is merged with Allium in the latest systems). Tulbaghieae contains two genera, Tulbaghia and Prototulbaghia. Gilliesieae and Leucocoryneae contain the remaining fifteen genera. Allieae is sister to a clade composed of Tulbaghieae and Gilliesieae.[11]


Characterised by simple or prolific bulbs, sometimes with lateral rhizomes. Leaf sheaths long, tepals free and corona absent. Spathe formed from 2–5 bracts. Style position apical relative to ovary. Ovary usually has two, four or numerous ovules per locule in two longitudinal rows. One genus and over 500 species. Distributed over all the Northern hemisphere. [10]


Characterised by simple or prolific bulbs, sometimes with lateral rhizomes. Leaf sheaths long, tepals more or less fused and corona absent. Spathe formed from 1–2 bracts. Style more or less gynobasic. Ovary usually has two ovules per locule, side by side. Floral symmetry zygomorphic, septal nectaries absent. Nine genera native to South America.[10]


Characterised by simple or prolific bulbs, sometimes with lateral rhizomes. Leaf sheaths long, tepals more or less fused and corona absent. Spathe formed from 1–2 bracts. Style more or less gynobasic. Ovary usually has two ovules per locule, side by side. Floral symmetry actinomorphic, septal nectaries present. Six genera and 42 species, and endemic to South America with the exception of two species of Nothoscordum.[10]


Characterised by Corm shaped bulb or rhizome. Leaf sheaths short. Flowers possess a corona, pseudocorona or a fleshy perigonal ring.[10] Two genera and about 25 species. Endemic to South Africa.[10]


As of December 2014, the following eighteen genera are included in the Allioideae:[note 1]


Former genera[edit]

The genera Androstephium, Bessera, Bloomeria, Brodiaea, Dandya, Dichelostemma, Jaimehintonia, Milla, Muilla, Petronymphe, Triteleia, and Triteleiopsis are now treated in the family Themidaceae. Petronymphe has been restored to Themidaceae from Anthericaceae[2] (now a segregate of Agavaceae).[15] Latace Phil. is included in Nothoscordum.


Subfamily Allioideae

Tribe Allieae (monogeneric, Allium)

Tribe Tulbaghieae

Tribes Gilliesieae, Leucocoryneae


Global distribution corresponds to the tribal structure, with the Allieae confined to the Northern hemisphere (North America, North Africa, Europe and Asia), Tulbaghieae to South Africa, Gilliesieae to South America, and Leucocoryneae to South America with the exception of two species of Nothoscordum (N bivalve, N. gracile) which extend to southern North America.[10] Thus fouteen of the total of 18 genera are endemic to temperate South America,[8][8][3]


Some of the species of Allium are important food plants for example onions (Allium cepa), chives (A. schoenoprasum), garlic (A. sativum and A. scordoprasum), and leeks (A. porrum).[6] Species of Allium, Gilliesia, Ipheion, Leucocoryne, Nothoscordum, and Tulbaghia are cultivated as ornamentals.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Theoria Syst. Pl. 32 (1858)
  2. ^ a b c d e f Chase, M.W.; Reveal, J.L. & Fay, M.F. (2009). "A subfamilial classification for the expanded asparagalean families Amaryllidaceae, Asparagaceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161 (2): 132–136. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00999.x. 
  3. ^ a b Fay & Hall 2007.
  4. ^ Rolf M.T. Dahlgren, H. Trevor Clifford, and Peter F. Yeo. 1985. The Families of the Monocotyledons. Springer-Verlag: Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, Tokyo. ISBN 978-3-540-13655-2. ISBN 978-0-387-13655-4.
  5. ^ Michael F. Fay and Mark W. Chase. 1996. "Resurrection of Themidaceae for the Brodiaea alliance, and recircumscription of Alliaceae, Amaryllidaceae, and Agapanthoideae". Taxon 45(3):441-451
  6. ^ a b Seberg, Ole (2007). "Alliaceae". In Heywood, Vernon H.; Brummitt, Richard K. & Culham, Alastair. Flowering Plant Families of the World. Richmond Hill, Ontario: Firefly Books. pp. 340–341. ISBN 978-1-55407-206-4. 
  7. ^ Armen L. Takhtajan (Takhtadzhian). Flowering Plants second edition (2009). Springer Science+Business Media. ISBN 978-1-4020-9608-2.
  8. ^ a b c Knud Rahn. 1998. "Alliaceae" pages 70-78. In: Klaus Kubitzki (general editor) with Klaus Kubitzki, Herbert F.J. Huber, Paula J. Rudall, Peter F. Stevens, and Thomas Stützel (volume editors). The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants volume III. Springer-Verlag: Berlin;Heidelberg, Germany. ISBN 978-3-540-64060-8
  9. ^ Michael F. Fay, Paula J. Rudall, and Mark W. Chase. 2006. "Molecular studies of subfamily Gilliesioideae (Alliaceae)". Aliso 22(Monocots: Comparative Biology and Evolution):367-371. ISSN 0065-6275.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Sassone et al. 2014.
  11. ^ J. Chris Pires, Ivan J. Maureira, Thomas J. Givnish, Kenneth J. Sytsma, Ole Seberg, Gitte Petersen, Jerrold I. Davis, Dennis W. Stevenson, Paula J. Rudall, Michael F. Fay, and Mark W. Chase. 2006. "Phylogeny, genome size, and chromosome evolution of Asparagales". Aliso 22(Monocots: Comparative Biology and Evolution):287-304. ISSN 0065-6275.
  12. ^ Stevens, P.F. (2001 onwards). "Angiosperm Phylogeny Website: Asparagales: Allioideae".  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. ^ Sassone 2014.
  14. ^ Canio Giuseppe Vosa (2007). "Prototulbaghia, a new genus of the Alliaceae family from the Leolo Mountains in Sekhukhuneland, South Africa". Caryologia 60 (3): 273–278. doi:10.1080/00087114.2007.10797948. 
  15. ^ David J. Bogler, J. Chris Pires and Javier Francisco-Ortega (2006). "Phylogeny of Agavaceae based on ndhF, rbcL, and ITS sequences: implications of molecular data for classification". Aliso. 22 (Monocots: Comparative Biology and Evolution): 313–328. 
  16. ^ Anthony Huxley, Mark Griffiths, and Margot Levy (1992). The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening. The Macmillan Press,Limited: London. The Stockton Press: New York. ISBN 978-0-333-47494-5 (set).



  1. ^ Unless otherwise shown, genera are from the Angiosperm Phylogeny Website.[12]

External links[edit]