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Annual herbs, sprawling, sometimes slightly woody at base. Leaves petiolate or subpetiolate, stipules absent. Inflorescences terminal or extra-axillary spikes or spike-like racemes; bracts present; bracteoles 0 or 2. Flowers bisexual, sessile or shortly pedicellate; tepals 5, oblong, persistent in fruit; stamens 3-5, alternating with tepals, or 6-9 with 1-4 epitepalous ones, anthers dorsifixed, globose; ovary 2-carpellate, 1-loculed, globose, stipitate, ovule 1, basifixed, style absent or nearly so, stigmas 2, each sometimes 3-partite. Fruits small, thin-walled drupes or achenes, tuberculate, glochidiate, muricate, spiny or smooth; seed 1, lenticular, testa black, shining, crustaceous, embryo curved, albumen scanty.


Central and South America present, Guianas present, Southern America, tropical America present
Approximately 10 species in tropical America (West Indies, Central and South America); 2 in the Guianas.


The genus Microtea is sometimes included in the family CHENOPODIACEAE.