Annual or perennial herbs, rarely somewhat woody, with alternate or fascicled leaves, gland-like stipules and racemose or spicate, bracted flowers. Flowers unsymmetrical. Calyx 4-7-parted, more or less inequilateral. Petals generally 4-7, cleft or entire, hypogynous. Disk fleshy, hypogynous, 1-sided. Stamens 3-40, inserted on the disk; filaments generally unequal. Ovary 1, compound, of 3-6 carpels; styles or sessile stigmas 3-6; ovules ∞. Fruit capsular in all but one genus, 3-6-lobed. Seeds reniform, without endosperm; cotyledons incumbent.

Six genera and about 65 species, mainly natives of the Mediterranean region.