Aquatic, annual or commonly perennial herbs, generally with submersed rhizomes. Leaves alternate, floating or emersed, long-petiolate; blade peltate or falsely peltate. Stipules present or wanting. Flowers solitary, hermaphrodite, actinomorphic, often fragrant; peduncle long. Sepals 4—15, free, usually green. Petals numerous, the innermost being petaloid staminodes. Stamens mostly numerous, acyclic; connective often produced beyond the anthers as a sterile appendage; anthers introrse, 2-celled, with longitudinal dehiscence. Ovary superior, semi-inferior or inferior, 5—35-celled; styles wanting; stigmas united into a disk with radiating stigmatic lines. Ovules numerous in each cell, on parietal placentas or on the septae, anatropous. Fruit berry-like. Seeds often with an aril. Endosperm and perisperm present. Embryo straight; cotyledons thick. About 90 species in 5 genera in fresh water; cosmopolitan.