Trees, shrubs or herbs, often with quadrangular stem and branches. Leaves decussate or verticillate, or rarely alternate, simple or compound; stipules absent. Inflorescence usually cymose; inflorescence-units solitary, spikes or heads. Flowers bisexual, usually slightly to strongly zygomorphic; calyx tubular, 4- or 5-lobed or -toothed; corolla tubular, 4- or 5-lobed; stamens 4 (rarely 2 or 5), inserted on corolla-tube; ovary superior, entire or 4-lobed, 2–4-locular, style terminal, simple with 2 stigmatic lobes. Fruit drupaceous, schizocarpic or a capsule.
A mainly tropical and subtropical family of c. 75 genera and 3000 species; 17 genera and c. 62 species in Australia.