Annual or perennial herbs, often prostrate or suberect, glabrous to pubescent. Leaves usually narrowly elliptic, sometimes subfleshy, entire, sheathing at base, acute. Inflorescence usually 2-flowered, scorpioid cymes, subtended by short, hooded, funnel-shaped or falcate, folded spathes or involucral bracts. Flowers of the upper cymes small, often sterile, those of the lower cymes larger and fertile. Sepals 3, the outer cucullate, free, inner 2 often connate below, obovate, sometimes persistent. Petals 3, longer than sepals, clawed, ovate, inner 2 smaller than the outer one. Perfect stamens 3, free, hypogynous, antisepalous; staminodes 2-3; filaments glabrous. Ovary glabrous, 2-3-loculed, two of the locules 1-2-ovuled, the third locule, if present, either 1-ovuled or empty. Capsules loculicidal, posterior locule (cocci) indehiscent or absent, the two anterior cocci connate and indehiscent; seeds small, usually subtriangular, reticulately pitted.