Herbs or shrubs. Leaves simple, alternate or opposite; stipules small or lacking. Fls. bisexual, regular. Sepals 5, (rarely 4) free or partially united, imbricate. Petals 5 (or 4) and alternate with sepals, convolute. Stamens 5 (or 4) and alternate with petals; filaments connate at base, often alternating with small staminodia; anthers introrse, 2-celled. Ovary superior, 2-5 celled or seemingly 4-10 celled by false septa; ovules 2 in each cell; styles as many as ovary-cells, +/- free, filiform, with simple subcapitate stigmas. Fruit a capsule; seeds compressed, shining. About 14 genera and 150 species, widely distributed, a few important as ornamentals or for flax, linseed oil, etc. (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 547).