Fluorescent in situ hybridization and Southern blotting were used for showing the predominant absence of the Arabidopsis–type telomere repeat sequence (TRS) 5′–(TTTAGGG)n–3′ (the ‘typical’ telomere) in a monocot clade which comprises up to 6300 species within Asparagales. Initially, two apparently disparate genera that lacked the typical telomere were identified. Here, we used the new angiosperm phylogenetic classification for predicting in which other related families such telomeres might have been lost. Our data revealed that 16 species in 12 families of Asparagales lacked typical telomeres. Phylogenetically, these were clustered in a derived clade, thereby enabling us to predict that the typical telomere was lost, probably as a single evolutionary event, following the divergence of Doryanthaceae ca. 80–90 million years ago. This result illustrates the predictive value of the new phylogeny, as the pattern of species lacking the typical telomere would be considered randomly placed against many previous angiosperm taxonomies. Possible mechanisms by which chromosome end maintenance could have evolved in this group of plants are discussed. Surprisingly, one genus, Ornithogalum (Hyacinthaceae), which is central to the group of plants that have lost the typical telomere, appears to have regained the sequences. The mechanism(s) by which such recovery may have occurred is unknown, but possibilities include horizontal gene transfer and sequence reamplification.