Annual, biennial or perennial herbs, often woody. Leaves simple, entire, usually opposite, less commonly alternate or whorled; stipulate or exstipulate. Flowers actinomorphic, usually hermaphrodite or sometimes unisexual or the plant gynodioecious. Inflorescence simple or compound cymes or flowers solitary. Sepals 4-5 or absent, free or united, entire or lobed (bilobed or fimbriate), often with a limb and a claw. Coronal scales (ligules) present or absent. Stamens (0-)3-10, free, rarely adnate to the sepals. Ovary superior, 1-2-5-Jocular. Placentation free-central. Ovary, stamens and petals sometimes borne on a carpophore. Styles 2-5. Fruit a capsule dehiscing by as many or twice the number of valves or teeth as there are styles or berrylike and indehisceut. Seeds 1-many, globose to pyriform or reniform, with smooth or variously sculptured face, the back sometimes caniculate or winged.