Trees or shrubs with a tough inner bark. Leaves alternate, rarely opposite. Stipules wanting. Inflorescence consisting of axillary or terminal heads, racemes or spikes. Flowers actinomorphic, hermaphrodite or unisexual. Receptacle cylindric, funnel-shaped or urn-shaped. Tepals 4 or 5, imbricate. Stamens usually twice as many as the tepals, inserted on the top of the receptacle; filaments short or elongate; anthers versatile or united with the filaments, longitudinal dehiscent. Disk ring or cup-like or represented by 4 or 5 scales, or wanting. Ovary superior, 1- or 2-locular; style very short to elongate; stigma terminal, capitate. Ovules solitary in each locule, pendulous. Fruit a drupe or nut, rarely a capsule or berry, enclosed by the persistent perianth. Seed-coat mostly crustaceous. Embryo straight. Endosperm sparse or wanting. About 425 species in 37 genera: widely distributed, mainly in the temperate regions, chiefly in S. Africa, Australia, Mediterranean region, and central and western Asia.