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Herbs or subshrubs, slightly woody at base. Leaves shortly petiolate; stipules present, minute. Inflorescences elongated, axillary or terminal spike-like racemes; flowers subsessile or pedicellate; bracteate and bracteolate. Flowers bisexual, more or less actinomorphic; tepals 4, free or partly united in a short tube, lobes spreading in flower, persistent, enlarging and erect in fruit; stamens 4-8, on a hypogynous disk, filaments unequal, shorter than tepals, anthers seemingly medifixed, linear; ovary 1-loculed, narrowly subellipsoid or oblongoid, flattened, pilose or tomentose, with 4-6 retrorse hook-like awns, ovule 1, style absent, stigma 1, papillose, penicillate and laterally decurrent along ventral (flattened) side of ovary. Fruits 2-lobed achenes with 4-6 apical hooked awns; seed 1, linear, testa membranous, adherent to pericarp, albumen scanty, mealy, cotyledons foliaceous.


Central and South America present, Guianas present, Southern America, United States present, tropical and subtropical America present
Species 2, occurring in tropical and subtropical America; 1 species (with 6 fruit-awns) endemic to Brazil, the other (with usually 4 fruit-awns) occurring in the United States, West Indies, Central and South America, including the Guianas.