Annual herbs, monoecious, stellate-hairy. Leaves alternate, simple, margins entire or toothed, petiolate; stipules present. Male flowers sessile in terminal spike-like racemes or axillary clusters; female flowers 1–few at base of the males. Male flowers with calyx of 5 segments; petals 5; stamens 5–10, on a short column, anthers 2-celled, dehiscing longitudinally. Female flowers with calyx of 10 segments; petals absent or very small; ovary 3-celled, ovules 1 per cell, styles 3. Fruit a large, drooping capsule of three 1-seeded mericarps; seeds lacking caruncle.
About 15 species, from the Mediterranean region and Asia; 1 species naturalised in Australia.