Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
a family of dicotyledonous plants including herbs and, less frequently, shrubs. The leaves are opposite and entire or lobed; the upper leaves may be alternate. There are slime-secreting hairs on the leaves and stems, and the bisexual, irregular flowers usually have glandules at the base of the pedicels. The sepals, of which there are usually five, are fused at the base. The corolla is five-lobed. One of the five stamens is converted to a staminodium. The gynoecium has two carpels, and the ovary is superior. The fruit is a capsule or an indehiscent structure; it often has various outgrowths—adaptations for dispersal by animals.
There are 12 to 15 genera, embracing about 55 species. The plants are found primarily in tropical and subtropical regions, mainly in Africa. Some species are encountered on Madagascar, on the island of Socotra, in the Indo-Malaysian region, and in northern Australia. The USSR has one species, which grows in the Far East. The sesame is the most important plant of the family Pedaliaceae.