This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Annual or perennial herbs, rarely shrubby. Leaves scattered or fasciculated, simple, trifid or pinnate; stipules minute, glandular. Flowers hermaphrodite, small, dull-coloured, racemose, or spicate. Calyx persistent, 4- to 7-partite, equal or unequal, lobes imbricated. Petals 4 to 7, rarely 2 or none, hypogynous, deeply lobed or laciniate. Torus dilated upwards. Stamens 10 to 40, inserted within the torus. Capsule sessile or stalked, indehiscent, open at the top in three lobes. Seeds numerous, reniform, exalbuminous. Most of the species belonging to this family are from the Mediterranean region.