Herbs, annual or perennial, rarely woody at base. Caulescent or acaulescent, stem hollow or solid. Leaves alternate, rarely opposite or basal; petiole usually sheathing at base; stipules absent (except in subfam. Hydrocotyloideae); leaf blade compound or sometimes simple, usually much incised or divided, pinnatifid to pinnatisect, or ternate-pinnately decompound. Flowers epigynous, small, bisexual or staminate (unisexual male), regular, in simple or compound umbels; umbellules few to many-flowered; rays often subtended by bracts forming a involucre; umbellules (sometimes called umbellets) usually subtended by bracteoles forming an involucel. Pedicels long, short or obsolete (then forming a capitate umbellule). Calyx tube wholly adnate to the ovary; calyx teeth (sometimes called sepals) small or obsolete, forming a ring around the top of the ovary. Ovary inferior, 2-celled, with one anatropous ovule in each locule. Styles 2, usually swollen at the base forming a stylopodium which often secretes nectar. Fruit dry, of two mericarps united by their faces (commissure), and usually attached to a central axis (carpophore), from which the mericarps separate at maturity; mericarps are variously flattened dorsally, laterally or terete; each mericarp has 5 primary ribs, one down the back (dorsal rib), two on the edges near the commissure (lateral ribs), and two between the dorsal and lateral ribs (intermediate ribs), occasionally with four secondary ribs alternating with the primary, the ribs filiform to broadly winged, thin or corky; vittae (oil-tubes) usually present in the furrow (intervals between the ribs sometimes called the valleculae) and on the commissure face, rarely also in the pericarp, sometimes obscure. Each mericarp 1-seeded, splitting apart at maturity. Seed face (commissural albumen) plane, concave to sulcate.
Fruit dry, dividing when ripe into 2 mericarps, supported by a central carpophore; carpels usually ribbed and often with resin canals (vittae) in their walls; mericarps sometimes hairy and sometimes provided with hooks or spines
'Flora of China @ eFloras (2008). Published on the Internet http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2 [accessed August 2016]' Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.