Herbaceous or woody vines and then climbing by means of axillary tendrils, or subscandent shrubs; stems terete or 3—5-angled. Leaves alternate, simple or rarely compound, entire or lobed. Stipules present or wanting. Flowers axillary, solitary or usually in pairs, sometimes in racemes or panicles, actinomorphic, hermaphrodite or rarely unisexual. Receptacle flattish, saucer-like or bell-shaped. Sepals 5, free or basically connate, often provided with a small horn near the apex, imbricate, persistent. Petals 5 or rarely wanting, free or basically connate, imbricate. Corona of one or several series, rarely wanting. Stamens 5 (or 4—8 or numerous); filaments united in the lower part to form a tubular membrane closely adherent to the gynophore; anthers 2-celled, dehiscing longitudinally. Ovary superior, 1-celled, 3—5-carpelled; styles usually 3—5, free or united. Ovules numerous on 3—5 parietal placentas, anatropous. Fruit a berry or a capsule. Seeds numerous, usually compressed, covered with a fleshy aril or pulp. Embryo straight, large. Endosperm fleshy. About 600 species in 12 genera, predominantly in tropical America.