Woody plants. Leaves alternate, simple. Stipules present. Inflorescence consisting of panicles or racemes. Flowers hermaphrodite or rarely unisexual, zygomorphic; receptacle saucer-shaped or tubular. Sepals free, imbricate. Petals free, imbricate or convolute or the petals wanting. Stamens (2—) 10 to numerous, inserted on the rim of the receptacle, often partly infertile or inserted unilateral only; filaments sometimes somewhat connate. Ovary often excentric in the flower, 2—3-carpellary, of which usually only one well-developed; the style basal or lateral; stigma one. Ovules usually 2, anatropous, basal. Fruit a drupe. Seeds without endosperm. About 420 species in 17 genera in the tropics, mainly in America.