Trees, shrubs or lianas. Leaves alternate, verticillate, or rarely opposite. Stipules wanting. Inflorescence consisting of terminal, axillary or extra-axillary panicles, racemes or spikes. Flowers actinomorphic or occasionally zygomorphic, hermaphrodite or unisexual. Receptacle tubular, surpassing the ovary in length. Sepals 4—5(—8), persistent, valvate. Petals 4—5(—8) or wanting, small, imbriate or valvate. Disk often present. Stamens 2—5 or twice as many as the calyx lobes and then biseriate; anthers versatile or adnate to the filaments with welldeveloped connective, 2-celled, with longitudinal dehiscence. Ovary inferior, uni-locular, ribbed or angled; style 1, slender; stigma small, rarely capitate. Ovules 2—6, pendulous, epitropous. Fruit leathery and drupaceous, very variable in shape and size, usually indehiscent, often variously winged or ridged. Seed one, by abortion of the ovules. Endosperm wanting. About 500 species in 18 genera in the tropics of both worlds.