Perennial herbs or subshrubs. Root cylindrical or fusiform, sometimes tuberous. Stem erect or twining, branched. Leaves scalelike, scariose, spurred at the base, spurs sometimes extending into spines, subtending 1-many cladodes. Inflorescence axillary or terminal solitary or cluster of flowers, sometimes a individuals with staminate flowers exhibit much variation in reduction of pistil, from fully functional to rudimentary. Pedicel articulated. Perianth campanulate or subglobose, tepals 6 in two series, free or connate at base. Stamens 6, filaments free and epiphyllous. Ovary superior, trilocular, axile placentation, ovules 2-many per locule, style with 3 short stigmatic branches or with capitate or lobate stigma. Fruit a berry.