Herbs, shrubs or trees. Leaves alternate or rarely opposite. Stipules present. Inflorescence various or the flowers solitary. Flowers actinomorphic, 5- or 4-merous, usually hermaphrodite or unisexual and then the plants dioecious. Receptacle conical or tubular to saucer-shaped. Sepals free, imbricate, deciduous or persistent. Epicalyx sometimes present. Petals free and then deciduous and imbricate or wanting. Stamens 2—4 times as many as the sepals or numerous, inserted on the margin of the receptacle; filaments filiform; anthers 2-celled, with longitudinal dehiscence. Pistils one to numerous; ovaries in our species uni-locular and 1-carpellary; style sometimes lateral; stigma small. Ovules 1 or 2, anatropous. Fruits of various types. Endosperm scanty or wanting. About 3000 species in ± 100 genera, cosmopolitan but rather few in the tropics.