Herbs, shrubs or rarely trees. Leaves alternate, simple, usually dentate or serrate and often provided with 1 or 2 pairs of discoid glands at the base of the blade or on the petiole. Stipules small or wanting. Flowers solitary or in small groups in the axils of the upper leaves, actinomorphic, hermaphrodite and often heterostylous; pedicels free or partly united with the petiole, often jointed and bi-bracteolate. Receptacle, tubular. Sepals 5, imbricate. Petals 5, thin, contorted, deciduous after anthesis. Stamens 5, alternating with the petals; filaments usually partly free, inserted near the base of the receptacle; anthers oblong, introrse, with longitudinal dehiscence. Ovary superior, 1-celled; styles 3, terminal, slender, simple or more or less deeply divided; stigmas usually divided into a large number of short, flabellately arranged branches. Ovules 3 to numerous on 3 parietal placentas, ascending, anatropous. Fruit a 1-celled, loculicidal capsule, opening with 3 valves at the apex or splitting to the base. Seeds few to many, oblong, cylindrical or obovoid, straight or curved, provided with a membranaceous aril. Embryo large, straight or curved. Endosperm fleshy. About 100 species in 7 genera in the tropics, mostly in America.