Yellowish, reddish, or brownish root parasites, destitute of chlorophyll, emerging from tuberous or rhizomatous underground structures, which are in contact with the host root. Leaves scale-like, alternate, conspicuous and numerous, or basal, small and hidden in the litter. Inflorescences spadix-like, apparently unbranched; bracts scaly, peltate and usually hexagonal or strongly reduced, inconspicuous to absent. Flowers actinomorphic, trimerous, monocyclic, unisexual, monoecious or dioecious; stamens with anthers united into a synandrium, stigmas 1 or 2. Fruit a small achene with one embryo.