Not a very large family, mostly natives of warm regions. Ours are branching herbs, lying mostly on the ground; leaves mostly opposite or in whorls; flowers perfect; sepals four or five; petals numerous, small or none; stamens few or many, usually on the calyx; ovary sometimes superior; fruit a capsule. In this country most of this family are dull little plants, with inconspicuous flowers.

There are many kinds of Mesembryanthemum, mostly African; ours are smooth, very succulent perennials; without stipules; leaves opposite; calyx-lobes unequal and leaf-like; petals long, narrow and very numerous, inserted with the innumerable stamens on the calyx-tube; ovary with ten or twelve styles, becoming a sort of berry, containing many minute seeds, and opening at the top in rainy weather. The terribly long name is from the Greek, meaning "noonday flower."