Description from Flora of China
Herbs annual or perennial, subshrubs, or shrubs, usually furfuraceous. Leaves alternate, rarely opposite, petiolate or subsessile; leaf blade flattened, slightly succulent, linear, lanceolate, oblong, ovate, triangular, rhombic, or hastate, margin serrate, rarely entire. Flowers unisexual (plants monoecious or dioecious), borne in axillary glomerules arranged in panicles or short, leafy spikes. Male flowers ebracteate; perianth (3-)5-parted; segments oblong or obovate, apex obtuse; stamens 3-5, inserted at base of perianth; filaments usually united proximally; ovary rudimentary, conic or terete, rarely obsolete. Female flowers: bractlets 2, free or margins connate to varying lengths, slightly enlarged in fruit (here termed “fruiting bracts”), shape various, both sides usually with appendages; perianth and disk absent; ovary ovoid or globose; style very short; stigmas 2, subulate or filamentous. Utricle enclosed by fruiting bracts; pericarp adnate to seed. Seed vertical, compressed, compressed globose, or lenticular; testa membranous, leathery, or crustaceous; embryo annular; radicle lateral or superior; perisperm surrounded by embryo.
About 250 species: temperate and subtropical zones; 17 species (two introduced) in China.