Dioecious, branched undershrubs; branches opposite, 4-angular, herbaceous, afterwards becoming terete and woody. Leaves opposite, simple, sessile. Stipules wanting. Male inflorescence catkinlike, axillary. Bracts in 4 rows, imbricate, persistent, slightly peltate. Flowers with a cuplike, bilabiate perianth. Staminodes 4. Stamens 4, alternating with the staminodes; filaments distinct; anthers versatile, with longitudinal dehiscence. Rudiment of ovary sometimes present. Female inflorescence more or less conical. Bracts in 4 rows, not imbricate, deciduous, slightly peltate. Flowers naked. Ovary 4-locular, sessile to short-stipitate; style very short; stigma bilobed. Ovules solitary in each locule, basifixed, anatropous. Disk wanting. Fruit baccate, crowned by the persistent stigma. Seed erect, club-shaped, slightly curved. Endosperm wanting. Two species in one genus; one species mainly in tropical America, the other one in New Guinea.