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Annual or perennial, succulent herbs or subshrubs; nodes glabrous or pilose. Leaves alternate, opposite or in a basal rosette, simple, often succulent, sessile or petiolate; stipules scarious, lacerate or fimbriate, or modified into hairs. Inflorescence a terminal or lateral raceme, cyme or panicle, or the flowers solitary and axillary. Flowers bisexual, regular; sepals 2(4-8), free or united below, imbricate, persistent or caducous, scarious or herbaceous; petals (2-)5(-12), free or united below, imbricate, deciduous; stamens 4-5 or more, free or adnate at base to corolla, filaments filiform, anthers 2-locular, basifixed, longitudinally dehiscent, introrse; ovary superior, half-inferior or inferior, 2- to 5-carpellate and 1-locular, placentation free-central or basal, ovules several to numerous, campylotropous, often on long funicles, styles and stigmas 1-9, free or united below. Fruit a loculicidal or circumscissile capsule (rarely an indehiscent nut); seeds (1-2 by abortion) 3-numerous, compressed, lenticular, reniform or cochleate, sometimes strophiolate, often tuberculate, embryo curved, perisperm often present and abundant, endosperm rudimentary, mealy.


Guianas present, Northern Hemisphere present, worldwide present
Approximately 450 species in 29 genera, essentially of worldwide distribution but mostly in the Northern Hemisphere; in the Guianas 7 species in 2 genera.