Annual or perennial, prostrate to ascending herbs. Leaves opposite, petiolate, slightly succulent, with a membranous sheath at base of petiole; stipules 0. Flowers bisexual, sessile, in axillary clusters of 5-20. Perianth 5-lobed, connate in lower half; lobes with membranous margins, coloured within, dorsally mucronate. Stamens 5-15, free, arising from upper part of calyx tube. Ovary superior, 2-carpellate, syncarpous, 2-locular, with 2 ovules per locule, arising from interlocular septum; stigmas 2, free. Fruit a 4-seeded capsule; operculum splitting septicidally into 2 valves. Seeds reniform.
Species 6, NE and E Africa, Asia and Australia; 1 in sthn Afr.: Zaleya pentandra (L.) Jeffrey, Namibia, Botswana, Northern Province, North-West, Mpumalanga, Swaziland, N KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape.