Shrub or undershrubs. Branches often ending into spines. Leaves small, coriaceous or fleshy, rarely thin, sessile or short petioled; ochreae connate, rarely splitting to the base, usually with 2 linear or linerar-lanceolate appendages at the apex. Flowers small, solitary or in fascicles of 2-3 or in loose racemes, arising from the ochreolae;bisexual. Perianth segments 4-5 in whorls, outer 2 smaller, reflexed in fruit, inner 2-enlarged, erect, enclosing the fruit. Stamens 6 or 8, inserted at the base of perianth, united into a glandular ring. Carpels 2-3; ovary lenticular or trigonous; styles 2-3, short, distinct or connate at base; stigmas 2-3, capitate. Fruit a lenticular or trigonous nut; seeds small with linear cotyledons.