Shrubs usually with rigid spiny branches, glabrous or with scattered glandular hairs. Leaves alternate, or clustered, simple, entire, usually fleshy, sessile or shortly petiolate. Inflorescences axillary clusters, or flowers solitary. Flowers bisexual, regular; calyx tubular to campanulate, 4- or 5-lobed, irregular, sometimes 2-lipped, persistent, accrescent in fruit; corolla funnel-shaped, 4- or 5-lobed, regular, creamy-white, lilac or purplish, lobes imbricate in bud; stamens usually 5, unequal, inserted near base of corolla-tube; anthers 2-celled, dorsifixed, not cohering around style, dehiscing by longitudinal slits; ovary 2-celled; stigma capitate. Fruit a succulent berry, partially enclosed by enlarged calyx; seeds suborbicular, flat, usually numerous.
About 100 species, in temperate America, southern Africa, Eurasia and the Pacific; 4 species in Australia, 1 endemic, 3 naturalized.