Semiparasitic herbs, shrubs or trees, usually on roots or stems of plants. Leaves simple, exstipulate, linear or broadly so, alternate or opposite. Flowers bi-or sometimes unisexual, small, regular, disposed in racemes, spikes or heads. Perianth campanulate to tubular, 4-5-lobed. Disk present. Stamens as many as the perianth lobes, epiphyllous. Ovary inferior, unilocular with 1-3 pendulous ovules from a basal placenta. Style simple. Fruit a nut or a drupe. Seed endospermic, lacking a testa.
The family resembles the Loranthaceae in the semiparasitic habit and the ovules which are not clearly differentiated, but differs in the 4-5-merous flowers with a simpler floral and fruit structure.