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Temporal range: 120 Ma
Early Cretaceous- Recent
Lilium martagon 250605a.jpg
Lilium martagon (Martagon lily)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Liliales
Perleb (1826)[1]


Liliales (older name: Lilia) is an order of monocotyledonous flowering plants. This order of necessity includes the family Liliaceae, but both the family and the order have had a widely disputed history, with the circumscription varying greatly from one taxonomist to another. Well known plants from the order include Lilium (lily), tulip, the North American wildflower Trillium, and greenbrier.

The APG III system (2009) places this order in the clade monocots. In APG III, the family Luzuriagaceae is combined with the family Alstroemeriaceae and the family Petermanniaceae is recognized. APG III uses this circumscription:

Thus circumscribed, this order consists mostly of herbaceous plants, but lianas and shrubs occur. They are mostly perennial plants, with food storage organs such as corms or rhizomes. The family Corsiaceae is notable for being heterotrophs.

The order has worldwide distribution. The larger families (with more than 100 species) are roughly confined to the Northern Hemisphere, or are distributed worldwide, centering on the north. On the other hand, the smaller families (with up to 10 species) are confined to the Southern Hemisphere, or sometimes just to Australia or South America. The total number of species in the order is now about 1300.

As with any herbaceous group, the fossil record of the Liliales is rather scarce. There are several species from the Eocene, such as Petermanniopsis anglesaensis or Smilax, but their identification is not definite. Another known fossil is Ripogonum scandens from the Miocene. Due to the scarcity of data, it seems impossible to determine precisely the age and the initial distribution of the order. It is assumed that the Liliales originate from the Lower Cretaceous, over 100 million years ago. Fossil aquatic plants from the Cretaceous of northeastern Brazil and a new terrestrial species placed in the new genus Cratosmilax suggest that the first species have appeared around 120 million years ago when the continents formed Pangea, before dispersing as Asia, Africa and America.[2] The initial diversification to the current families took place between 82 and 48 million years ago (Vinnersten and Bremer, 2001).

Older classifications[edit]

The APG II system (2003) places this order in the clade monocots and uses this circumscription:

The APG system (1998) also placed the order in the clade monocots, but with a slightly different circumscription (missing the family Corsiaceae):

The Cronquist system (1981) placed the order in subclass Liliidae in the class Liliopsida [= monocotyledons] of division Magnoliophyta [= angiosperms]. It used a much wider circumscription (many of the plants here are assigned to Asparagales and Dioscoreales by APG II):

The Thorne system (1992) placed the order in superorder Lilianae in subclass Liliidae [= monocotyledons ] of class Magnoliopsida [= dicotyledons] and used this circumscription:

  • order Liliales
    family Alstroemeriaceae
    family Campynemataceae
    family Colchicaceae
    family Iridaceae
    family Liliaceae
    family Melanthiaceae
    family Trilliaceae

The Dahlgren system placed the order in superorder Lilianae in subclass Liliidae [= monocotyledons] of class Magnoliopsida [= angiosperms] and used this circumscription:

  • order Liliales
    family Alstroemeriaceae
    family Calochortaceae
    family Colchicaceae
    family Iridaceae
    family Liliaceae
    family Uvulariaceae

In the Engler system (1964 update) a similar order was named Liliiflorae, placed in the class Monocotyledoneae of the subdivision Angiospermae.

The Wettstein system, last revised in 1935, used names similar to those in the Engler system: the order was named Liliiflorae placed in the class Monocotyledones of the subdivision Angiospermae. In circumscription the order was fairly similar to that of Cronquist.

Earlier names for this order include the Coronarieae of the Bentham & Hooker system.


  1. ^ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009), "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III", Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161 (2): 105–121, doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x, retrieved 2010-12-10 
  2. ^ Flaviana J. De Lima, Antônio A.F. Saraiva, Maria A.P. Da Silva, Renan A.M. Bantim, and Juliana M. Sayão (2014), "A new angiosperm from the Crato Formation (Araripe Basin, Brazil) and comments on the Early Cretaceous Monocotyledons" (PDF), Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências