This small family has a typical northern hemisphere range; it is absent from South America, extends in Eurasia only to the Mediterranean and in Southeast Asia to Malesia and NE. Queensland. There are 3 genera of which Elaeagnus occurs throughout the range (20—50 spp.), Shepherdia occurs only in North America (c. 3 spp.), and Hippophaë occurs throughout Eurasia (c. 3 spp.). The habitat is chiefly in steppes and along coasts, but in SE. & E. Asia, Malesia and N. Queensland Elaeagnus is found as a substage liana in the everwet rain-forest, showing no special preference for seasonal climates. A characteristic feature is the universal occurrence of an often dense indument of scales and frequent occurrence of short-shoot thorns.