Shrubs or herbs (in our region) with muculaginous ducts and with an indumentum of stellate or rarely simple hairs or lepidote. Leaves alternate, simple. Stipules present or wanting, often fugaceous. Inflorescence axillary, terminal or oppositifolious, cymose or flowers solitary. Bracts and bracteoles present, small or large. Flowers hermaphrodite or unisexual by abortion, actinomorphic. Sepals 4—5, free or basally connate, caducous or persistent. Petals as many as the sepals or wanting, usually free, sometimes sepaloid, often glandular at the base. Stamens 10 to many, sometimes partly staminodial; filaments free or shortly connate at the base into a tube or in fascicles; anthers usually 2-celled, opening by longitudinal dehiscence or apical pores. Ovary superior, sessile on the receptacle or on a gonophore, 2-locular; style simple or obsolete; stigma entire or 2—10-split or -lobed. Ovules 1 to many in each locule, anatropous with axile placentation. Fruit drupaceous or capsular, smooth or spinose, or dry and indehiscent, the locules sometimes again divided by means of longitudinal and transverse partitions. Seeds 1 to many, pilose or alate. Embryo straight or somewhat curved. Endosperm abundant or scanty. About 600 species in 50 genera of worldwide distribution but mainly in the tropics.