Trees, erect or climbing shrubs or herbs, often with simple or stellate hairs, scales or viscid glands. Leaves alternate, simple or palmately compound. Stipules small, glandular or spinose, or wanting. Flowers solitary in the axils of the leaves or in axillary or terminal racemes, hermaphrodite or rarely polygamous, zygomorphic or actinomorphic, often subtended by bracts; bracteoles wanting. Sepals 4, free or connate at the base, often unequal. Petals usually 4, sometimes wanting. Disk a ring or scale-like. Stamens 4—numerous, often on an androphore. Ovary superior, sessile or usually on a long gynophore, 1- or morelocular; style short or filiform; stigma capitate or 2-lobed. Ovules few to many on parietal placentas, campylotropous. Fruit a berry or a bi-valved or indehiscent capsule or rupturing irregularly, many-seeded. Seeds kidney-shaped. Embryo large, various folded. Endosperm wanting. Perhaps 800 species in 45 genera in the tropics and subtropics.