Herbs or shrubs, often with branches jointed at nodes. Leaves opposite or alternate, pinnate or 2-3-foliate, not gland-dotted; stipules paired, persistent, often spinescent. Flowers bisexual, regular, 1 or 2 in the axils of the stipules. Sepals 5, rarely 4, usually free and imbricate. Petals 5, rarely 4 or 0, free, usually imbricate or contorted. Disk usually present. Stamens free, essentially hypogynous, usually twice as many as petals; anthers 2-celled, opening lengthwise. Pistil usually of 4 or 5 united carpels, or twice as many; ovary mostly superior, sessile; style simple; stigmas 1 or 5; ovules 2 or more in each cell. Fruit various; forming a capsule or splitting into 5-12 indehiscent nutlets. Seeds mostly with endosperm; embryo straight with flat cotyledons. (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 859).
One well-known member of this family is the Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata) of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. (Dale 200).
About 12 species, widely distributed, especially in the tropics. (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 862).