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Annual, biennial or perennial herbs, rarely dwarfshrubs. Leaves exstipulate, simple, opposite, not or only slightly connate at the base. Inflorescence cymose, few- or many-flowered, dense or lax, simple or compound. Flowers 5-merous, mostly bisexual, sometimes unisexual. Petals 5, long-clawed, with or without coronal scales, lamina entire, emarginate or bifid. Stamens 10, rarely reduced in number in female or bisexual flowers. Ovary 3-5-partite in lower part, in upper part unilocular; Capsule dehiscing by 3-6 teeth; Seeds numerous, reniform to spherical, sometimes with a dorsal wing.


Africa present, Asia-Tropical, North America present
About 700 species of which c. 600 in Eurasia, the remaining in North America and northern Africa. In Malesia no indigenous species.


Greuter, Burdet & Long - in MED-Checklist. 1984: 248
L., Gen. Pl., ed.5. 1754: 193
Rohrbach, Monogr. Gatt. Silene. 1868
Pax & Hoffm. - in Engl. & Prantl, Nat. Pflanzenfam., ed. 2, 16c. 1934: 343
Chowdhuri - in Notes Roy. Bot. Gard. Edinb. 1957: 221
Melzheimer in Fl. Iranica - in Cont. 1988: 341