Perennial herbs with broad entire alternate petioled leaves, and small perfect incomplete bracteolate flowers, in peduncled spikes. Perianth none. Stamens 6-8, or sometimes fewer, hypogynous; anthers 2-celled, the sacs longitudinally dehiscent. Ovary 3-4-carpelled, the carpels distinct or united, 1-2-ovuled; ovules orthotropous. Fruit capsular or berry-like, composed of 3-4 mostly indehiscent carpels. Seeds globose or ovoid, the testa membranaceous. Endosperm copious, mealy. Embryo minute, cordate, borne in a small sac near the end of the endosperm.

Three genera and 4 species, natives of North America and Asia. The family differs from the Piperaceae in having more than one carpel to the ovary. It is represented in North America by the following and by Anenwpsis, occurring in California and Arizona.