A small family of perennial herbs. Stems erect, leaves alternate, broad and cauline, mostly ovate; flowers perfect, without true perianth, bracteate, in dense, slender peduncled spikes; stamens 6-8 or occasionally fewer by abortion, hypogynous, filaments distinct the 2anther-cells of each stamen dehiscing vertically; gynoecium superior, of 3-4 distinct 1-celled, 1-carpelled pistils or the simple pistils incompletely united in a single compound pistil, carpels 1-2 ovuled, ovules orthotropous, placentation basically parietal or axile when ovary is compound; styles as many as pistils, stigmas as many as styles, recurving; fruit an indehiscent capsule or berry-like. (Bailey 316).
Three genera and 4 species of North America and Asia. (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 776).