Herbs, shrubs or undershrubs. Leaves alternate or rosulate, simple. Stipules wanting. Inflorescence consisting of simple or compound spikes or clusters. Flowers hermaphrodite, actinomorphic. Bracts 1; bracteoles 1 or more. Calyx tubular or funnel-shaped, ribbed; the limb 5-toothed or 5-lobed, membranaceous and hyaline between the lobes. Corolla 5-lobed; petals connate at the base only or united into a tube shorter or longer than the calyx. Stamens 5, epipetalous; filaments filiform; anthers ovate or oblong, dorsifixed, with longitudinal dehiscence. Ovary superior, stipitate or sessile, 1-locular; styles 5, distinct or more or less connate; stigmas capitate or linear. Ovules solitary, anatropous, pendulous. Fruit usually enveloped by the calyx, an utricle or achene, rarely a dehiscent capsule. Seed solitary; testa membranaceous. Endosperm floury. Embryo straight. About 300 species in 10 genera, widely distributed in the world, often in saline habitats.