In the Dipsacus genus the small 4-petalled flowers are crowded in a bristly, egg-shaped head ringed by long, rigid, prickly bracts. The flowers tend to bloom together in a band around the head. The opposite leaves clasp the prickly stem.

Dried heads of Fuller''s teasel were once used to raise a nap on cloth, a process known as "teaseling".


Most species in this family have radially symmetrical flowers with 5 united sepals, 5 united petals and 5 stamens. The alternate leaves are simple. The fruit is a many-seeded pod or berry. In the Ground-cherries (Physalis) the calyx forms a papery sac around the berry.

The petunia is a cultivated member of the family, and vegetable members include chili, bell peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and egg plant. Belladonna and strychnine are derived from species in the tomato family. Many species are poisonous, and even the garden tomato was once thought to be very dangerous to eat.


The only local genus (Impatiens) has 2 species. The bilaterally symmetrical flowers are brightly colored and hang down on thin stalks. There are 5 sepals. The posterior pair are fused and form a considerable part of the flower, including the posterior spur. There are 5 petals, but the 2 on each side are fused, giving the appearance of 3 petals protruding from the large, petal-like sepal. The opposite, simple leaves are toothed and lance-shaped or ovate. The succulent stems are somewhat translucent. The long, thin, ripe seedpods explode to the touch into 5 coiled strips, expelling the seeds, and accounting for the name "touch-me-not".