Annual or perennial herbs, with milky or coloured juice. Leaves alternate, entire or pinnatifid or palmatifid. Stipules wanting. Flowers usually solitary, hermaphrodite, actinomorphic. Sepals 2, rarely 3 or 4, free, very caducous. Petals 4, rarely more or wanting, free, imbricate, deciduous. Stamens numerous; filaments free, filiform; anthers 2-celled, with longitudinal dehiscence. Ovary superior, unilocular, with 2—16, sometimes protruding, parietal placentas; style obsolete; stigmas as many as the carpels, opposite or alternating with the placentas. Ovules numerous or only one central ovule. Fruit a capsule, opening by pores or valves, rarely indehiscent. Seeds small, with a crested smooth raphe or arillate. Embryo minute. Endosperm fleshy or oily. About 250 species in 28 genera, mostly in the temperate and subtropical regions of the northern hemisphere.