Trees or shrubs. Leaves spiral or in pseudo-whorls, sometimes subopposite, generally coriaceous, simple or pinnatisect, often dimorphous, entire or toothed, sometimes spiny. Stipules 0. Inflorescences mostly axillary or rami- or cauliflorous, or terminal. Bracts (potentially) present but mostly small, often minute and very early caducous or barely visible, sometimes large, accrescent and woody (in cone-like spikes). Bracteoles 0-2, small. Flowers in racemes, umbels or spikes, the latter sometimes cone-like, not rarely inserted in twos; pedicels of the pairs sometimes connate to various degree. Flowers choripetalous (though segments sometimes remain connate or partly so, sometimes with a spathaceous corolla), actinomorphous, sometimes zygomorphous (by one-sided saccate corolla base, oblique torus, disk glands, stigma), mostly bisexual, rarely only seemingly so and in fact unisexual and dioecious. Buds generally cylindric, straight or curved, more or less dilated towards the base, with a mostly clavate or globular apex. Perianth segments (tepals) valvate, with a distinctly broadened apex (here called: limb), in flower recurved, adhering to each other in the lower portion to various degree, at length mostly entirely free. Torus flat or oblique. Stamens 4, epitepalous; filaments connate with the tepals to various degree, sometimes very short; anthers erect, basifixed, 2-celled, introrse, dehiscing lengthwise, connective often prolonged. Disk an annular or horseshoe-shaped, flat or oblique gland, or consisting of 4 free or variously united hypogynous glands alternating with the stamens, rarely absent. Ovary superior, 1-celled, sessile or stipitate, often oblique; style terminal, thickened at the tip; stigma mostly small, terminal or lateral. Ovules solitary or geminate, either orthotropous and pendulous from or nearly from the top of the cell, or anatropous, ascending, inserted at the base of the cell or laterally at the wall, or ovules ~, biseriate. Fruit dehiscent, i.e. a coriaceous or woody follicle or a ± dry fruit the pericarp of which splits irregularly into halves to various depth, or indehiscent, i.e. a nut or a true drupe, or a ± dry fruit with coriaceous pericarp. Seeds solitary or in pairs, or ~ biseriate, sometimes winged; testa membranous, or coriaceous, sometimes stony; albumen 0; cotyledons thin or thick and fleshy, often unequal; radicle short; inferior. Distr. About 60 genera, with at least 1300 spp. in mostly tropical or subtropical Africa (incl. Madagascar c. 350 spp.), Central and S. America (c. 90 spp.), Asia (20 spp.), Malaysia (incl. Palau Isl., New Ireland, New Britain, and the Solomon Isl. c. 80 spp., 5 of which also in Australia), Australia (c. 750 spp., chiefly in W. Australia, 5 of which also represented in New Guinea), New Caledonia (c. 50 spp.), New Hebrides (2 spp.), extending to New Zealand (2 spp.), Fiji and Samoa (2 spp.), but not represented in Polynesia proper east of the ‘Andesite-line’.