National Herbarium, Agricultural Research Council, Rawalpindi
P.C.S.I.R. Laboratories, Lahore.
Monoecious herbs or undershrubs, succulent, often with a rhizome or a tuber. Stem jointed. Leaves simple, alternate, stipulate, entire, toothed or lobed, often oblique. Flowers in bracteate cymes. Male flower: Perianth of 2 outer and 2 inner segments, opposite and decussate, valvate Stamens many, free or united. Female flower: Perianth of 2-5 segments, imbricate; staminodes absent or poorly developed; ovary 3(-1 to many)-locular, often angled or winged; styles 2-5, free or basally united; stigmas branched, twisted. Fruit a capsule or a berry. Seeds many, minute, oval or rounded.
The family has been placed near Cucurbitaceae. It resembles it in its branched stigmas, but differs in its leafy stipules and usually a winged or an angled ovary. It has also been placed near Datiscaceae by some authors.
A family of 5 genera and c. 930 species, found abundantly in all moist tropical countries, except Australia. Represented in Pakistan by 1 genus.
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture for financing this research under PL. 480. Thanks are also due to Messrs. B.L. Burtt, I. Hedge, and Miss J. Lamond of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, for their helpful suggestions.