Herbs, annual or perennial, small, mycotrophic, semi-mycotrophic, or autotrophic, often rhizomatous or tuberous. Leaves alternate, simple, entire; autotrophic species with basal rosette leaves; all with cauline leaves. Inflorescences terminal, many-flowered cymes or racemes, or flower solitary. Flowers bisexual. Perianth of 1 or 2 whorls and each whorl of 3 tepals, corolline, tubular or campanulate. Perianth tube often 3-angled or 3-winged; tepals sometimes appendaged; appendages terminal, elongated, slender. Stamens 3 or 6, if 3 then subsessile in perianth throat, if 6 then pendent in perianth tube; connectives large, often appendiculate. Ovary inferior, 1-loculed with parietal placentation or 3-loculed with axile placentation; ovules numerous, anatropous, bitegmic; style filiform, shortly cylindric, or conic; stigmas 3, sometimes connate. Fruit capsular, occasionally fleshy, with either persistent perianth tube and style or only persistent basal ring of perianth, dehiscence irregular or by transverse ventral slits. Seeds small, numerous; endosperm present.
About 16 genera and 148 species: tropical and subtropical regions; three genera and 13 species (two endemic) in China.
Wu Te-lin & Chen Sen-jen. 1981. Burmanniaceae. In: Wu Te-lin, ed., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 16(2): 169-175.