Herbs, shrubs or trees. Leaves alternate, simple, glabrous, entire or serrate. Stipules entire or fringed. Inflorescence usually consisting of terminal or axillary panicles or racemes, sometimes flowers solitary or clustered in the leaf-axils. Flowers hermaphrodite, actinomorphic. Sepals 5 (or 4—10), free, imbricate. Petals 5 (or 4—10), free, imbricate, soon falling. Stamens 5, 10, or numerous, sometimes partly staminodial; anthers linear-elongate, 2-celled, with longitudinal dehiscence (or opening by terminal pores). Ovary superior, entire or deeply lobed, 2—5-celled; style simple, awl-shaped or rarely lobed at the apex; stigmas 1—5, terminal. Gynophore or elongate receptacle present. Ovules one to many in each cell, ascending or rarely pendular. Fruit various. Seeds solitary, few or numerous. Endosperm present or wanting. Embryo large, straight. About 375 species in 20 genera in the tropics, especially in America.