This is a large and widely distributed family, particularly abundant in warm regions. Most of the species are rough or coarse annual and perennial herbs with alternate or opposite simple leaves, and small, dry flowers much like those in the goosefoot family, Chenopodiaceae. The flowers are usually in dense clusters and always subtended by 2 to 3 small, colored, papery bracts or scales. The fruit is a small utricle. The principal genus in California is Amaranthus, a number of species of which are weeds, and the best known ornamental in the family is the cockscomb, Celosia cristata. (Robbins et al. 159).
About 40 genera and 500 species, largely of warm climates. (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 60).