Herbs (sometimes saprophytic), shrubs, lianas or trees. Stipules absent but stem sometimes provided with a pair of glands at the nodes. Leaves simple, entire, usually spirally arranged, sometimes alternate, (semi)decussate or verticillate, sometimes scale-like or absent. Inflorescence usually raceme-like and unbranched, (supra- or extra-)axillary and/or terminal, sometimes thyrsoid or fasciculate, rarely flowers solitary. Bracts present; bracteoles basal, rarely ( Salomonia, Epirixanthes) absent. Flowers bisexual, more or less zygomorphous, rarely actinomorphous. Sepals 5, free and quincuncial, or the lower (abaxial) 2 connate, sometimes all connate, subequal or the lateral ones larger and then often wing-like (alae) and petaloid. Petals 3 or 5, free or variously united, occasionally also with the calyx, usually adnate to the base of the staminal tube or the filaments, subequal or more often unequal with the lower petal often keellike and frequently pouched, lobed, or crested. Stamens 2—10, usually 8, filaments usually more or less connate except between the upper stamens, often adnate to the petals; anthers basifixed, tetra- or bi-, rarely trisporangiate, 1- or 2-locular, opening by a single and often oblique pore or by a longitudinal introrse slit. Ovary superior, usually 2-locular but occasionally 1-, 3-, 5-, 7- or 8-locular, sessile or sometimes stipitate; style simple but often variously dilated or lobed at apex, usually articulate with the ovary and nearly always deciduous in fruits. Ovules 1 per cell and subapical, or (in Xanthophyllum) 4—more in a 1-locular, bicarpellate ovary with 2 parietal placentas, anatropous, bitegmic and crassinucellate. Fruit various, a berry, capsule, samara or drupe. Distribution. About 15 genera and over 1000 species, widespread in temperate and tropical regions of the world, especially well-developed in South America and South Africa. In Malesia 6 genera, of which Polygala and Securidaca (not in Australia) are cosmopolitan, Xanthophyllum and Salomonia Indo-Australian, Epirixanthes Indo-Malayan. The sixth genus is Eriandra which belongs to the tropical American tribe Moutabeae, of which 3 genera are known in South America; Eriandra occurs in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands and represents a marked example of disjunct, tropical trans-Pacific affinities.