Small trees or shrubs; top of branches and branchlets usually converted into spines. Leaves entire, opposite or fascicled on short-shoots. Stipules wanting. Flowers solitary or clustered, showy, hermaphrodite, actinomorphic, sessile or subsessile. Bracts small. Receptacle tubular, prolonged above the ovary, with a disk-like ring inside. Sepals 5—7, free, persistent, triangular or ovate-lanceolate, fleshy. Petals 5—7, alternating with the sepals, obovate, imbricate, deciduous. Stamens numerous, free, inserted in the upper part of the receptacle, above the disk-like ring; filaments filiform; anthers versatile, 2-celled, with longitudinal dehiscence. Ovary inferior, many-locular, the loculi in 2—3 superposed rows; styles united; stigma slightly lobed. Ovules anatropous, numerous in each loculus; those of the lower loculi axile, those of the upper loculi parietal. Fruit a globose, several-locular berry crowned by the calyx, with a thick coriaceous coat and membranaceous septa. Seeds numerous, outer layer of the testa thick, inner layer bony. Endosperm wanting. Embryo straight; cotyledons convolute. Only one genus with two species of which one originally from eastern Europe to the Himalaya, but nowadays cultivated and subspontaneous in all tropical regions.