Plants herbs, shrubs or trees. Leaves usually opposite, simple, entire; stipules minute or absent. Inflorescences usually cymose, sometimes congested into raceme-like thyrses, sometimes of solitary flwoers. Flowers bisexual, usually radially symmetric, (3-)4-8(16)-merous, sometimes with individuals differing in the relative length of their stules and stamens (= heterostylous); hypanthia present. tubular or campanulate, sometimes leathery; sepals triangular, often with the sinuses between them extended into appendage-like horns; petals, when present, delicate, often with a claw, crumpled in bud, red, pink, to purple or white, soon falling; stamens usually up to 2x as many as the sepals, more in woody genera, bending inwards; nectary discs absent or very small; ovaries usually superior, sometimes inferior, (1-)2-6(-8)-celled, placentation usually axile, rarely basal, with 2-many ovules; styles simple. Fruits usually capsules, often included within the hypanthium at maturity, sometimes berries; seeds usually small and numerous.
The Lythraceae family includes about 25 genera and 550 species, It grows mostly in the tropics and subtropics, being less temparate in temperate regions. The above description has been modified to include Punica, which used to be treated as the only member of the Punicaceae, and Sonneratia, which used to considered one of two genera in the Sonneratiaceae.
Key to the genera of Pakistan, Somaliland and Somalia.