Annual or perennial herbs or shrubs or vines. Leaves alternate or opposite, simple or dissected or compound. Inflorescence usually a paniculate glomerate or flat-topped cyme, or the flowers in heads or even solitary. Flowers complete, regular, mostly 5-, rarely 4- or 6-merous as to perianth and stamens. Calyx herbaceous to variously membranous or chartaceous, accrescent after anthesis or distended or ruptured by the capsule, variously cleft, the lobes often with hyaline membrane between. Corolla gamopetalous, campanulate to funnelform to slaverform, usually regular. Stamens equally or unequally inserted, the filaments equal or unequal. Ovary mostly 3- lobculed; style simple; stigma-lobes usually 3. Fruit a capsule, usually regularly dehiscent. Seeds 1 to many. About 18 genera and 350 species; most numerous in western North America. (Munz, Flora So Calif. 638).
Many members of this family are well known garden flowers and wildflowers in North America. There are more native species in California than elsewhere. (Dale 153).