Herbs annual or perennial, tufted, small. Stems branched, short. Leaves crowded or densely distichous; leaf sheath open, broadly membranous, often with ligule adaxially at juncture with leaf blade; leaf blade narrowly lanceolate, linear, or filiform, stomata paracytic. Inflorescence a terminal head or spike, rarely 1-flowered; bracts 2 to many, distichous. Flowers unisexual or bisexual. Perianth absent. Stamens 1(or 2); filaments filiform; anthers dorsifixed, versatile, 1-loculed, dehiscing longitudinally; pollen grains 3-nucleate, 1-porate. Carpels 1 to many, superior, connate or free. Styles free or connate at base; stigmas linear. Fruit small, dehiscing longitudinally; pericarp membranous. Seeds minute; albumen farinaceous; embryo small.
About five genera and ca. 35 species: mainly in Australia, a few in SE Asia, Pacific Islands, and South America; one species in China.
Wu Kuo-fang. 1997. Centrolepidaceae. In: Wu Kuo-fang, ed., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 13(3): 8--10.