Herbs or shrubs. Leaves alternate or opposite, entire, sometimes fleshy; stipules absent or minute. Flowers regular, bisexual. Perianth segments 4–5, connate at the base or tubular, persistent on the fruit. Stamens 4–5 or more, sometimes numerous when the outer ones are petaloid staminodes. Ovary superior or inferior, 3–multi-locular; placentas axile, parietal or basal. Fruit a capsule or berry-like. 140 gen., warm temp. and subtrop., particularly S. Africa.