Annual or perennial herbs or shrubs, sometimes climbing. Leaves alternate, entire or lobed, subsessile or petiolate; "stipular" leaves sometimes present in axils of normal leaves, lanceolate or falcate. Inflorescence of lax or dense terminal or axillary spikes, thyrses or panicles, in cultivars the spikes sometimes fasciated; bract 1 and bracteoles 2, persistent. Flowers bisexual, not aggregated into glomerules; tepals 5, free, scarious, striate; stamens 5, filaments expanded below and united for less than 1/2 their length in a staminal cup, rarely alternating with short teeth, anthers 4-locular, introrse, pseudostaminodia minute or absent; ovary (1-)2- to multi-ovulate, style short or long, stigmas 2-3. Fruit a circumscissile capsule (sometimes referred to as a utricle), sometimes thickened above; seeds 2 or more, sometimes strongly compressed, orbicular or subovoid, reticulate, shining, exarillate, embryo annular.