Herbs, subshrubs, or shrubs. Leaves usually opposite, rarely alternate, stipulate or estipulate; leaf blade simple. Inflorescence 1-flowered or cymose, sometimes racemelike or paniclelike. Flowers bisexual, actinomorphic. Sepals 5; outer 2 smaller, sometimes absent. Petals (3 or)5, white, pink, yellow, or orange, sometimes with ± black blotches at base, crumpled in bud, caducous. Stamens many; filaments free, unequal in length, inserted in elongated or discoid torus; anthers 2-thecate, longitudinally dehiscent. Gynoecium of 3-5(-10) carpels; ovary superior, 1-loculed or imperfectly 3-5-loculed; placentas parietal; ovules 2 to many, orthotropous, rarely anatropous; style 1; stigmas 3. Capsule leathery or woody, loculicidal. Seeds small, often angled and coarse on surface. Embryo often curved, or circinate; cotyledons narrow; endosperm powdery or cartilaginous.
Eight genera and ca. 170 species: N Africa, SW Asia, and Europe, mostly in the Mediterranean region, extending to E Africa (Somalia) and C Asia, also in North and South America; one species in China.
Zhang Pengyun & Zhang Yaojia. 1990. Cistaceae. In: Li Hsiwen, ed., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 50(2): 178-179.