Annual or perennial herbs, subshrubs or shrubs. Flowers bisexual or pistillate in spiciform inflorescences, or solitary in the axils of bracts; perianth connate almost up to the top, at the apex with 4 erect unequal teeth; stamens usually 4; stigmas 2(-3). Seeds vertical; embryo horseshoe-shaped or almost annular; radicle inferior. Zn = 12. About 10 spp., S and E Eurooe. N Africa. Asia.