Geophytes with aerial parts annual; corm deep-seated with long thin neck and fibrous to hard outer tunic, edible. Leaves basal, 2-many, opposite or rosulate, linear to ovate-acuminate, forming a tubular sheath below, outer sheaths bladeless, often membranous, ribbed, glabrous, rarely scabrid or ciliate. Flowers in simple or much-branched, many-flowered, lax racemes, much exserted from leaf rosettes; rarely axillary, single-flowered on long pedicels, appearing successively, opening in morning and closing in evening, for several days; peduncle terete, wiry, bracteate; pedicels usually curved. Perianth: segments free or shortly united at base, spreading-reflexed, erect in bud and in fruit, usually reflexed during anthesis; white, pink, yellow, orange, brown, mauve or blue, occasionally bicoloured, with a purple basal spot or dark centre, veins often distinct; marcescent, circumscissile near base of ovary, falling off together with stamens. Stamens unequal or dimorphous, with 1 or 3 differently shaped; filaments short, fused basally, upper ones arched in some species; anthers yellow, sometimes maculate or papillate. Ovary half-inferior, conical above. Capsule erect, globose to narrowly ovoid, developing mainly above insertion of perianth. Seeds many, ovoid with wrinkled surfaces, shiny. x= 8 (polyploidy).
Species 7 or 8, sthn Afr., Namibia, mostly Western Cape.