Trees or shrubs. Leaves alternate, deciduous or persistent, simple, entire. Stipules wanting. Inflorescence terminal, axillary or opposite the leaves. Flowers hermaphrodite or rarely unisexual, actinomorphic, generally 3-merous. Sepals 3, free or united at the base, valvate or imbricate. Petals generally 6, in 2 series, valvate or imbricate, free or rarely united at the base, the inner ones often smaller, sometimes rudimentary or even wanting. Stamens usually numerous, spirally arranged, distinct but usually tightly packed; filaments short, thickened; anthers 4-celled, extrorse, sometimes locellate; connective broad and usually expanded in a more or less hoodlike disc above the anther. Gynoecium of few or numerous, separate or, in our species, cohering pistils; ovary superior, 1-celled, 1-carpelled; styles as many as the carpels and then short or stigmas sessile. Ovules 1-many, anatropous, parietal, sometimes seeming basal. Fruit a berry or follicle or, as in our genus, mature ovaries becoming connate and adnate to the floral axis, to form a single, fleshy, aggregate fruit. Seeds large, with or without an aril. Endosperm copious, wrinkled. Embryo minute. About 850 species in about 80 genera in the tropics.