Fleshy leafless herbs, destitute of chlorophyll, parasitic on roots. Spike bracteolate at base, bearing small, staminate, pistillate and hermaphrodite flowers. Staminate flowers: perianth segments mostly 1-5; stamen 1, anthers 2-celled; ovary rudimentary, semi-cylindrical with a groove into which the filament fits. Pistillate flowers: perianth adnate to ovary, lobes mostly 3-6 or perianth 0; ovary half-inferior or superior, sessile or somewhat stipitate, 1-celled, ending in a grooved style and obtuse stigma; ovule solitary, suspended by a short funicle from the top of the cell, suborthotropous. Hermaphrodite flowers few, fertile, with the stamen at the top of the ovary opposite the groove of the style. Fruit nut-like, with the persistent perianth and style at summit; pericarp thin, somewhat leathery, united with the thick testa. Seeds nearly globular; embryo lateral.