Monoecious or dioecious holoparasitic herbs. Stems simple, short, fleshy. Leaves alternate, imbricated, scale-like, coloured. Flowers unisexual, in terminal spikes or heads, sessile or short-pedicelled, usually with 2 bracteoles at base. Perianth tubular-campanulate, 4-8-lobed. Stamens 8-10, in 1 row, with filaments united into a column. Ovary inferior; ovules orthotropous; style cylindrical; stigma capitate. Berry with many minute seeds, containing endosperm.