Monoecious or dioecious trees, (often scrambling) shrubs, or lianas. Twigs and bark rather tough; medullary rays in twigs many, distinct; pith rather small, usually dark-coloured and often disappearing early; wood rather hard. Stipules narrowly triangular to subulate, sometimes rather early caducous. Leaves spirally arranged but usually pseudo-distichous, short-petioled, pinnatinerved; margin entire, thickened by a nerve; orbicular flat glands nearly always present on the surface of the leaf, mostly beneath in the basal part; base not rarely slightly inequilateral. Growth mode: apparently mostly in flushes. Inflorescences axillary (sometimes pseudo-terminal on leafless axillary shoots), dichotomously branched or glomerulous, sometimes reduced to 2 or 1 flower(s); lower forks with 1 transverse bractlet. Pedicels articulated near the apex. Flowers small, 5-merous, bi- or unisexual, in Mal. spp. hypo- or only slightly epigynous. Sepals ovate, imbricate, slightly confluent at the base, usually pubescent on either side. Petals (in Mal. spp.) free, more or less spathulate, bifid to emarginate, creamy to white when fresh, dark when dried. Stamens 5, episepalous, (in Mal. spp.) free; anthers introrse, opening by a longitudinal slit; connective strongly thickened. Disk consisting of 5 intrastaminal, epipetalous lobes. Pistil 2- or 3-merous; styles free or more or less connate; ovules 2 per cell, apical, pendent, anatropous, only one developing into a seed. Drupe usually tomentose, more or less lobed, in Mal. spp. orange or yellow when fresh; pericarp thin, fleshy, the angles usually with distinct sutures apparently indehiscent; endocarp crustaceous; stones 1-3, 1-seeded, often faintly united. Seeds exalbuminous; cotyledons fleshy, planoconvex. Distribution. The family Dichapetalaceae comprises 4 nearly exclusively tropical genera. Three of them, with c. 20 spp. are confined to South America & Africa. Dichapetalum itself is much larger and is distributed throughout the tropical zone (Polynesia and Micronesia excepted). Its main centre of speciation is Africa, to which three of its four sections are confined.