Perennial herb or shrub; rhizomatous or caespitose, terrestrial, prostrate to c. 2 m tall plants. Leaves distributed along the stem or in terminal tufts, distichous. Inflorescence solitary terminal or many flowered variously branched panicle. Flowers pedicellate, actino or zygomorphic, perianth marcescent; tepals 6, polyphyllous or shortly united into a tube; inner whorl slightly longer than the outer or subequal. Stamens 6, free or slightly united at the base; if free, hypogynous or epiphyllous; if united, three hypogynous and 3 epiphyllous; anthers basifixed or dorsifixed, dehiscing by pores or slits. Ovary tricarpellary syncarpous, hypogynous or half inferior, tri or unilocular, placentation axile or parietal, stigma capitate or with tufts of short hairs; septal nectaries generally present; ovules 1-many on each placentum. Fruit a berry or capsule, seeds black.
A family with 13 genera and c. 50 species, distributed throughout tropics, subtropics and temperate regions; represented in Pakistan by only one species.
This issue is funded in part by the US National Science Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Acknowledgement: We are grateful to the Directors/ Curators of the following herbaria for herbarium and library facilities and for sending the specimens on loan: BM, K, RAW. Special thanks are due to Chris Brickell for going through the manuscript and offering valuable suggestions. We gratefully acknowledge financial support for this publication from the Andrew Mellon Foundation and National Science Foundation (DEB 0103783), Washington, U.S.A. obtained through the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, U.S.A. We are grateful to Professor Peter H. Raven of the Missouri Botanical Garden for his assistance in securing the support. Grateful thanks are due to Professor Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, Vice-Chancellor, University of Karachi and Professor Shahid Shaukat, Chairman, Department of Botany, University of Karachi for providing working facilities to the project and for their understanding and encouragement.