Annual or perennial herbs, woody climbers, trees or shrubs. Leaves mostly entire, alternate, opposite or whorled; stipules absent. Flowers in clusters, bisexual or unisexual in clusters and occasionally with colourful petal-like bracts (Bougainvillea) or with petal-like sepals. Perianth 5-parted, tubular below. Stamens 5 (occasionally 1-many), alternating with the perianth lobes, free or united at the base, occasionally branched. Carpel 1. Ovary superior, 1-celled with 1 basal ovule; style long. Fruit an achene sometimes with a persistent perianth that assists dispersal.
Pisonia umbellifera (J.R. &G. Forst.) Seeman, a shrub with sticky bird-catching fruits, comes from New Zealand, Malaysia and the Indian Ocean Islands; it may be seen at Geelong Botanic Gardens and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (Melbourne Gardens) and is occasionally available in specialist nurseries.
Leaves of Pisonia are used as a vegetable and decoctions of the leaves and fruits are used medicinally.
Brightly coloured bracts (Bougainvillea); 1-seeded fruit.
About 27 genera and 390 species mostly from tropical America (Australia has 3 native genera and 6 species).
Source: (1997). Nyctaginaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.