For a nearly complete set of species of Erythronium (Liliaceae), we examined two plastid loci (the rps16 intron and the 5′ trnK intron, excluding the matK exon), one nuclear locus (nrITS) and morphology to evaluate species relationships and that of Erythronium to Amana, the putatively most closely allied genus. A matrix of morphological characters was developed through observation of around 900 living and herbarium specimens; evolution of these was examined using character optimization on the combined (total-evidence) tree. Parsimony methods were used to examine the morphological and molecular data sets produced, both separately and in combination, with Bayesian methods also used on the molecular data sets. These established that the genus is probably sister to Amana (although most analyses placed Amana inside Erythronium) and that Tulipa is sister to the pair of Erythronium and Amana. Within Erythronium, there are three strongly supported geographically distinct clades: (1) Eurasian and (2) eastern and (3) western North American. Separation of species in these three clades is less clear, particularly among the western North American taxa. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, ●●, ●●–●●.