A large family, widely distributed, mostly herbs or low shrubs, with toothless leaves, often with stipules sheathing the swollen joints of the stem. The small flowers have no petals, the calyx usually resembles a corolla and has from three to six divisions. There are from four to nine stamens and a superior, mostly triangular, ovary, with two or three styles or stigmas, becoming a dry, one-seeded fruit, generally brown or black. The kind from which flour is made is cultivated from northern Asia, and the name Buckwheat, from the German, means "beech-wheat," because the grain resembles minute beech-nuts. There are several common "weeds" belonging to this family, such as Dock, Sorrel, and Smartweed.

Chorizanthes are low herbs, with branching stems, without stipules, the leaves forming a rosette at the base and withering early. The small flowers have six sepals and are clustered in small heads, usually one flower in each papery involucre, which has from two to six teeth, with bristles at the tips; stamens usually nine, on the base of the perianth; styles three, with round-top stigmas.