Annual or perennial herbs or shrubs. Flowers resembling those of peas, in spikes or racemes. Sepals unequal, the lateral pair (wings) usually enlarged, often petaloid, all free or the lower pair shortly connate; petals 3, lower petal (keel) usually crested by a pair of branched or tufted appendages, upper petals united at base with lower one; stamens 8 (in Victoria); ovary 2-locular. Capsule 2-seeded; seeds usually silky-hairy, with a short aril.
About 350 species, cosmopolitan but chiefly tropical; c. 50 species in Australia, 5 naturalized.