Salt-tolerant herbs or small shrubs. Leaves opposite, sessile or petiolate, their bases often united by the dilated petiole or lamina margins; lamina simple. Flowers solitary or in cymes, bracteate, sessile, regular, bisexual (in Australia). Calyx a pleated, lobed tube; petals overlapping, usually free, often spathulate or clawed, frequently with ligular scale at base of lamina and often decurrent down claw, usually pink or white (rarely red or purple); stamens in 2 whorls, filaments of unequal length, often flattened; anthers versatile, locules opening away from the centre of the flower; ovary superior, unilocular, placentas 1–6, as many as there are style-branches, basal or parietal, style 1, usually branched. Fruit a capsule splitting lengthwise into valves, calyx persistent; seeds ovoid or cylindric; embryo straight.
4 or 5 genera comprising c. 100 species, almost cosmopolitan; 1 genus in Australia.