Herbs or shrubs, mostly perennial, often with translucent and sometimes blackish glands. Leaves opposite or sometimes whorled, sessile. Inflroescences mostly terminal, solitary flowers or cymes. Flowers bisexual, 5-merous with sepals and petals free; sepals valvate in bud; petals yellow, rarely white or orange. Stamens mostly numerous, free, often aggregated into 3–5 bundles; anthers tipped by a small gland. Ovary (1–)3–5-locular, dehiscing longitudinally; ovules numerous. Styles 2–(3–5), free. Fruit a capsule, drupe or berry.
About 370 species worldwide, mainly in temperate areas. Some species grown for ornament.