Annual or perennial herbs or shrubs. Leaves alternate or opposite, simple, sometimes fleshy, mostly with scarious or setaceous stipules. Flowers hermaphrodite, actinomorphic, often showy. Calyx of 2 or more sepals, free or connate at base, often caducous. Corolla of 4-6 (rarely 2-3) petals, free or connate at base. Stamens as many as petals or 2-4 times as many (rarely fewer); filaments mostly free; anthers 2-celled, introrse, dehiscing longitudinally. Ovary superior (or half-inferior), 1-celled, of 2-3 carpels; placentation central or basal; ovules 1 to many, campylotropous; styles and stigmas 2-5 (-8). Fruit a capsule, dehiscing by a lid or by 2-3 apical valves, rarely fruit a nut. Seeds with copious endosperm surrounded by embryo.