Description from Flora of China
Herbs perennial, aromatic. Stems erect, ascending, or prostrate, obviously jointed. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules interpetiolately connate or adnate to petiole, forming a sheath. Inflorescence a dense spike or raceme, sometimes resembling a single flower when large involucral petaloid bracts are present at base; bracts evident or inconspicuous. Flowers bisexual; perianth absent. Stamens usually 3, 6, or 8, free or adnate to ovary base; anthers 2-loculed, longitudinally dehiscent. Pistils (2 or)3- or 4-carpelled; carpels distinct or connate, if distinct: each carpel with 2-4 ovules, if connate: ovary 1-loculed, placentation parietal, each placenta with 6-13 ovules; styles free. Fruit a schizocarp or apically dehiscent capsule. Seed 1 or many; endosperm scanty; perisperm abundant; embryo minute.
Four genera and ca. six species: E and S Asia, North America; three genera and four species (one endemic) in China.
Saururaceous taxa have been extensively compared in studies of floral vasculature (H. X. Liang & S. C. Tucker, Amer. J. Bot. 77: 607-623. 1990), organogenesis (H. X. Liang, Acta Phytotax. Sin. 32: 425-432. 1994), pollen morphology (H. X. Liang, Acta Bot. Yunnan. 14: 401-404. 1992), and stem anatomy (S. Carlquist & al., I. A. W. A. Bull, n.s., 16(2): 133-150. 1995). Phylogenetic relationships of Saururaceae and its sister clade Piperaceae have been discussed by S. C. Tucker, (Syst. Bot. 18: 614-641. 1993).
Tseng Yung-chien. 1982. Saururaceae. In: Tseng Yung-chien, ed., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 20(1): 4-11.
(Authors: Xia Nianhe (夏念和) ; Anthony R. Brach)
Xia Nianhe -- Herbarium, Department of Taxonomy, South China Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wushan, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510650, People’s Republic of China.
Anthony R. Brach -- 2 Missouri Botanical Garden, c/o Harvard University Herbaria, 22 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138-2020, U.S.A.