The family is native to Africa, Asia and Tropical America.
It has 4 genera (Anredera, Basella, Tournonia and Ullucus) with around 15 to 25 species.
Naturalised in Australia, Anredera and Basella are used as green vegetables.
Most are stem twining vines while some are scrambling herbs.
There are often tubers or rhizomes (underground stems).
The long, often succulent stems may have fine, short hairs when young.
The simple, slightly fleshy leaves have petioles and are alternately arranged.
The axillary or terminal inflorescences are mostly spikes but sometimes branched clusters.
The bisexual flowers, with or without a stalk, have parts in 5’s.
The flowers are small as are the bract and the 2 (4) bracteoles.
The bracteoles are sometimes interpreted as sepals.
The small, thin bracts and bracteoles can be deciduous or remain.
There is a hypanthium and an annular nectiferous disc.
The perianth has 5 long or short lobes, in 2 whorls, attached to the top of the hyanthium.
It is usually thin and persists in the fruit.
The 5 stamens are in 1 whorl with the filaments free or united at the base with the perianth.
The dorsi or basi-fixed anthers open outwards via long slits or pores.
The superior ovary, of 3 fused carpels, is free of the hypanthium.
The single locule has 1 ovule with basal placentation.
There is usually only 1 style with 3 lobes but there may be three separate styles.
The indehiscent fruit have the remains of the perianth around them or just at the base.
The perianth can be dry or fleshy.
There is a single spherical seed.