A family of annual or perennial herbs and some shrubs, which have opposite, simple or lobed leaves, without stipules but often with glandular hairs. The flowers are either solitary, or in small, axillary cymes, usually 3-flowered. They are irregular and bisexual, with a united calyx and a tubular corolla, each composed of 5 parts. The 4 stamens are paired, and attached to the petals. The ovary is superior, with 2 fused carpels and a long style with 2 stigmas. There are 2–4 locules, with several ovules. The fruit is a nut or capsule, often hooked on the surface. The seeds contain little endosperm. Some species of the genus Sesamum provide edible seeds and oil (sesame). S. indicum is widely cultivated in India for its seeds. There are 18 genera, with 95 species, found in arid and saline habitats, especially coasts, in Africa. Madagascar, southern India, the Malay archipelago, and Australia.
Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry.