Trees, erect or scandent shrubs; stems sometimes producing rootlets ( Euonymus spp.), rarely buttressed at the base (e.g. Bhesa) or with aerophores (Lophopetalum multinervium), sometimes thorny (Maytenus spp.) ; sometimes with elastic or resinous threads in the leaves, inflorescences, floral parts, fruits, or branchlets, showing on fractures. Leaves simple, alternate, spiral, decussate or opposite, sometimes fascicled on short branchlets, penninerved, sometimes black-dotted beneath, rarely so on both surfaces, often crenate, more rarely entire. Stipules small, simple or laciniate, caducous, or none. Inflorescences axillary and/or terminal, sometimes extra-axillary, or ramiferous, cymose, thyrsoid, paniculate, racemose, fasciculate, sometimes 1-flowered, usually bracteate. Flowers generally small, actinomorphic, bisexual or unisexual, in the latter case the plants usually dioecious or sometimes polygamous. Calyx 4- or 5-lobed, lobes imbricate, rarely valvate, usually persistent. Petals 4 or 5, imbricate, contorted, rarely valvate, caducous, sometimes persistent, rarely slightly connate at the base and sometimes also united with the staminal ring below the connate filament bases (i.e. the so-called ‘disk’ in Microtropis), upper surface usually smooth, sometimes Partly covered with cristate, lamellate, fimbriate, or fleshy papilla-like appendages (e.g. Lophopetalum). Stamens (2-) 3, 4, or 5, rarely 8-10 (extra-Mal. gen. Forsellesia), alternate with the petals (except in Forsellesia), filaments inserted on or within the disk, on its margin or slightly below it, or on a basal ring (Microtropis), caducous or persistent; anthers mostly 2-celled, very rarely 1-celled (extra-Mal. spp.), usually ovoid, ellipsoid, or subglobose, rarely reniform, sometimes divergent, longitudinally, laterally, or very rarely apically (extra-Mal. spp.) dehiscent, introrse or extrorse, basifixed, dorsifixed, or dorso-basifixed. Disk various, often Present and conspicuous, fleshy or membranous, patelliform or cupular, or flat, entire, dentate, angular, or lobed; extrastaminal to intrastaminal, sometimes adnate to the torus or partially free at the margin, usually annular and continuous, rarely discontinuous and lobed, or even forming staminiferous pockets (extra-Mal. genera Cheiloclinium and Apodostigma), rarely obscure ( Microtropis), dually smooth, rarely covered with papilla-like or fleshy subulate processes). Ovary partly or entirely immersed in the disk, sometimes concealed within it or adnate to it, or free from it, usually glabrous, sometimes with a tuft of hairs at the top (Bhesa), rarely puberulous (extra-Mal. spp.), or covered with papillalike or fleshy subulate processes at the base (Euonymus spp.), (l-)2-5-celled or rarely many-celled (Siphonodon), mostly completely, very rarely incompletely felled; usually ending in a style, or very rarely hollow at the top (Siphonodon; style distinct, short, or obscure, or lacking (Brassiantha, Siphonodon and extra- Mal. genus), simple, rarely almost divided to the base (Bhesa), terminal, rarely lateral in fruit (Pleurostylia); stigma(s) simple, or lobed. Ovules mostly 2 in each cell, sometimes 1, or 3-18, anatropous, inserted at the inner angle, erect and inserted at the base or slightly higher, or pendulous, collateral, superposed or in 2 series. Fruit capsular, loculicidal or with 3 divergent separate or laterally connate ‘follicles’, or drupaceous, dehiscent, and sometimes leaving a columella, or indehiscent, smooth, sometimes echinate. Seeds erect or pendulous, sometimes winged; aril present or none, when present usually partly or entirely enveloping the seed or cushion-like situated at the base of it; usually orange or orange-red, rarely white; albumen present or 0; embryo erect; cotyledons flat, foliaceous. Distribution. The family Celastraceae (including Hippocrateaceae) comprises c. 90 genera and over 1000 spp., distributed in both hemispheres except the arctic regions, predominantly occurring in the tropics and subtropics.