Annual or short-lived perennial herbs, monoecious or apparently dioecious, without stinging hairs; cystoliths elongated. Leaves opposite, petiolate; stipules intrapetiolar, fused. Inflorescences single in leaf axils, unisexual, rarely bisexual, pedunculate; receptacles surrounded by fused bracts. Male inflorescences usually small, +/- bell- or cup-shaped, usually with less than 10 male flowers; male flowers 4- or 5-merous, with rudimentary ovary. Female inflorescences larger, with many flowers on a flat, disc-shaped receptacle; flowers (3)4-merous, tepals +/- markedly cucullate, ovary erect, stigma penicillate, staminodes present. Achene ovoid, verrucose.
Monotypic, very polymorphic, mountains of Old World tropics: Lecanthus peduncularis (Royle) Wedd.; sthn trop. Afr.: Malawi.