Description from Flora of China
Herbs annual or perennial, sometimes woody at base. Stems with prominent nodes and internodes. Leaves alternate, distichous or spirally arranged, sessile or petiolate; leaf sheath prominent, open or closed; leaf blade simple, entire. Inflorescence usually of cincinni in panicles or solitary, sometimes shortened into heads, sometimes sessile with flowers fascicled, sometimes axillary and penetrating enveloping leaf sheath, rarely flowers solitary and terminal or axillary. Flowers bisexual, rarely unisexual, actinomorphic or zygomorphic. Sepals 3, free or connate only at base, often boat-shaped or carinate, sometimes galeate at apex. Petals (2 or)3, free, sometimes connate and tubular at middle and free at 2 ends ( Cyanotis), sometimes clawed. Stamens 6, free, all or only 2 or 3 fertile; filaments glabrous or torulose villous; anthers parallel or slightly divergent, longitudinally dehiscent, rarely dehiscent by apical pores; staminodes 1--3; antherodes 4-lobed and butterflylike, 3-sect, 2-lobed and dumbbell-shaped, or entire. Ovary 3-loculed, or reduced to 2-loculed; ovules 1 to several per locule, orthotropous. Fruit a loculicidal, 2- or 3-valved capsule, rarely baccate and indehiscent. Seeds few, large; endosperm copious; hilum orbicular or linear.
Hong Deyuan. 1997. Commelinaceae. In: Wu Kuo-fang, ed., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 13(3): 69--133.
About 40 genera and 650 species: mainly in tropical regions, fewer species in subtropical and temperate regions; 15 genera (two introduced) and 59 species (12 endemic, three introduced) in China.
(Authors: Hong Deyuan (洪德元); Robert A. DeFilipps)