The family numbers approximately 160 genera and 2400 species.Most of these species are herbaceous plants or semi-bushes, with very few among them being trees and lianas.Representatives are spread primarily in subtropical and tropical regions although many of the species also endure moderate climate conditions.
The leaves are alternate or opposite, solitary or multiple, the lamina is whole, not cut. The racemes are herbaceous or scarious. The fruit is a capsule, rarely a tiny nut or berry-like. Many types are halophytes (growing in salty soils).