Trees or shrubs, sometimes climbing or twining. Leaves alternate or opposite, simple, deciduous or persistent. Stipules small and caducous or wanting. Inflorescence generally consisting of axillary cymes; pedicels commonly jointed. Flowers hermaphrodite or functionally unisexual, actinomorphous. Sepals 4—5, connate at the base, imbricate, persistent. Petals 4—5 or rarely wanting, free, imbricate, spreading. Stamens 4—5, alternating with the sepals, rarely 8—10, inserted on or near the margin of the disk; filaments free; anthers 2-celled, ovate or oval, versatile or innate, introrse. Disk flat or lobed, often adnate to the ovary. Ovary superior or seemingly inferior by adnation to the disk, 2—5-locular; style short, thick; stigma entire or lobed. Ovules usually 2 in each locule, erect, anatropous, on an axile placenta. Fruit a drupe, capsule, berry or samara. Seeds usually erect, with or without an aril. Embryo large. Endosperm fleshy or sometimes wanting. Over 1000 species in 80 genera, in tropical and temperate regions.