Bulb globose to ovoid, 13-25 x 12-20 mm. Contractile roots scattered over whole surface of bulb disk, glabrous, unbranched, smooth roots inserted laterally on the bulb disk, glabrous, not or sparingly branched. Increase bulbs numerous, 1-3 collaterally in the axils of protective-, sprout-, and foliage leaves, globose to ovoid, 2-15 x 2-10 mm, 0.5-1 mm beaked, 1-5(-55) mm stiped, wrapped in a hyaline prophyll. Protective leaves 2-4(-12), outer surface light yellowish or greyish, or medium brown, inner surface glossy, pearly white or whitish brown, after decay of outer epidermis conspicuously faveolate or pitted by the sclerified inner layer, the cell walls finely sinuate. Sproutleaf 1, soon wilting, 2-10 cm long, emerging to up to 5 mm above ground . Foliage leaves 3-7, glabrous; blades approximate, linear, 8-60 cm X 0.5-15(-25) mm, flat or folded, top acute, soon wilting, margin entire or distinctly crenulate; sheaths subequal, largely subterranean, 2-10 cm long, whitish, often tinged purplish. Scape 1 (or 2), longer than the leaves, erect, terete, solid, glabrous, 8-70 cm long, 2-5 mm diam. Inflorescence umbellate to spherical, usually many-flowered, 2-8 cm diam., usually without or sometimes with bulbils. Spathe 1, hyaline, persistent, 12-25 mm, 4-veined, opening with (2 or 3, or) 4 equal slits reaching to halfway to three-fourth, or with one single slit up to the base and with three shorter slits, forming (2 or 3, or) 4 spathe-lobes, often recurved, c. 2 mm acuminate, with purplish midvein. Bracteoles absent. Pedicels (sub)equal, seldom central pedicels longer, 10-40 mm, in bulbiferous inflorescences up to 60 mm, slender, in anthesis straight, or in globose inflorescences the outer pedicels recurved, in fruit straight, rigid. Flowers subcampanulate, fragrant. Tepals 1-1.5 mm adnate to bases of filaments, persistent, light to dark pink or purplish, with a darker rnidvein, or pure white; outer tepals ovate to obovate, 7.5-14 x 3.5-7 mm, top retuse, subtruncateor broadly obtuse, rarely acute, often with shallowly lacerated or undulated edge; inner tepals shorter and narrower, rarely longer than outer tepals, 7-12 x 3-5 mm, top obtuse to retuse, rarely acute. Stamens shorter than the tepals; filaments simple; outer filaments 3.8-8 mm long, at base 0.8-1.5 mm wide, connate with inner filaments for 0. 7-1.5 mm; inner filaments slightly longer and wider than outer filaments, 4-8.5 mm long, at base 1.1-2 mm wide. Anthers 1-2.8 x 0.8-1.3 mm, yellow. Pistil shorter than the tepals; ovary globose to obovoid, 2-4 x 1.5-4 mm; style 2-5 mm, slender, sometimes in the upper part contorted, inserted at about one-third to halfway from the base of ovary; stigma inconspicuous, with three minute lobes c. 0.4 mm. Fruits subglobose, 4-5 mm diam. Seeds c. 3 x 1.5 mm, black.
Bulbiferous specimens and seed production. Bulbils are produced at the base of the umbelliferous inflorescence, but sometimes also at the end of the pedicels, replacing normal flowers. Mostly, bulbiferous specimens do not produce seeds. In the Wageningen botanical garden, however, as an exception some bulbiferous specimens produced viable seeds.
Colour. The flower colour is variable. It ranges from pure white (found in e.g. Algeria. Tunisia, Libya, and Spain) to dark pink or purplish. True pink flowers are the most commonly encountered; purplish flowered specimens are found in Egypt and in bulbiferous forms. Sometimes white- and pink flowered specimens grow side by side. It can be difficult to decide upon the original colour in herbarium material, as the pink colour in dried specimens has often faded.
Outer bulbcoats. Every year two protective bulbcoats are produced. It is of interest to mention the presence in some specimens of much more than the usually two protective bulbcoats. This can be explained by assuming that the bulbcoats of preceding years have not decayed, possibly due to edaphic-and climatic conditions, as this feature has only been found in specimens from dry areas. In these cases the outer two bulbcoats, which are naturally the oldest and the smallest, are pushed up every year along the scape, by which a series of bulbcoats, decreasing in size, is formed. A specimen with at least 12 bulbcoats is CARVALHO 780 from Portugal; hence the age of this plant was at least 6 years. Similar specimens were collected in Algeria (NENOU s.n ., with 10 bulbcoats), and in Libya (D’ESCAYRAC 83, with 12 bulbcoats).
It is found frequently in dry riverbeds, on sand dunes, on arid rocks, in desertlike habitats, and in more or less secondary localities like vine- and oliveyards, roadsides, cultivated-, irrigated-, and abandoned fields. The species has a preference for limestone and sandy soils, but it is found on clay ish soil types as well. Altitude 0-2000 m.
Largely bound to the Mediterranean region. Occurs mostly along and near the coast, but sometimes also more inland, as e.g. in N. Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, and in France.
Canary Is. (only two collections seen, see notes); NW. and N. Morocco; AJgeria, as far south as Laghouat; Tunisia, as far south as Douirat; N. Libya; N. Egypt; Portugal; Spain, rare in the far interior, and but one collection from the Atlantic north coast; Balearic Is.; France, south coast, also some collections north of Bordeaux; Corsica; Sardinia; Sicily; Lampedusa I.; Maltese Is.; Italy; Yugoslavia; Greece, as far east as the Isles of Kos and Karpathos; Cyprus; Turkey, one collection seen. In the Near East the species seems to be replaced by the related A. erdelii Zucc.