Submerged or floating aquatic herbs, the leaves various. Flowers regular, mostly dioecious, appearing from an involucre or spathe of 1-3 bracts or leaves. Perianth 3-6-parted, the segments either all petaloid or the 3 outer ones small and herbaceous, the tube adherent to the ovary at its base in the pistillate flowers. Stamens 3-12. Anthers 2-celled. Ovary 1-celled with 3 parietal placentae. Styles 3, with entire or 2-cleft stigmas. Ovules anatropous or orthotropous. Fruit ripening under water, indehiscent. Seeds numerous, without endosperm.

About 6 genera and 25 species of wide distribution in warm and temperate regions. Besides the following, another genus, Halophila, occurs on the coast of Florida.

Stem branched; leaves whorled or opposite.



Acaulescent; stoloniferous; leaves grass-like, elongated.