About 120 species of bulbous plants from Europe, Asia and Africa. They vary greatly in stature and overall appearance, but basically each bulb produces one to several strap-shaped basal leaves and a leafless stem (scape) topped by a few to many-flowered raceme of six-tepalled flowers. The usually white or green and white tepals may spread widely to create a starry flower or point forwards in various degrees to give a more or less bell-shape and the flowers may face upwards, outwards, or nod. Many species have a prominent white line or zone on the upper (dorsal) side of the leaf following the midrib. In some late spring to early summer flowering species the leaves start to wither as the flower buds appear and this tends to detract from the floral display unless they are associated with other low-growing leafy plants.
The smaller hardy species are ideal subjects for the rock garden, raised bed or alpine house. Any well drained soil and a sunny or partially shaded site is suitable. Propagation by seed in spring or dividing congested clumps, and removing offsets when dormant.