Herbs, shrubs or trees. Leaves simple, usually alternate, exstipulate. Inflorescence racemose. Flowers 3-bracteate, hermaphrodite, zygomorphic. Sepals 5, free, two inner often larger, aliform. Petals 3 or 5, united with staminal sheath, anterior petal keel-like, often crested. Stamens usually 8, monadelphous; anthers opening by pores. Ovary superior, bilocular, ovule one in each locule, pendulous, style curved. Fruit usually a capsule. Seeds often pilose, strophiolate.
A family of 12 genera and c. 800 species, mostly temperate and tropical. Represented in West Pakistan by the genus Polygala.
The family shows relationship with Leguminosae and monogeneric families Krameriaceae and Xanthophyllaceae.
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture for financing this research under P.L. 480. Thanks are also due to Messrs B.L. Burtt, I. Hedge and Miss J. Lamand of the Royal Botanic Garden. Edinburgh, for their helpful suggestions.