Trees, shrubs or lianas, rarely subherbaceous. Glands (in Mal. spp.) often present on the leaf-bases or petioles, and in lower marginal crenations. Indumentum of simple hairs, glandular hairs or multicellular hairs secreting calcium oxalate and forming scales, or present beneath the cuticle making the surface of the leaf minutely verruculose and sometimes pellucid-punctate. Leaves opposite, verticillate, spiral, or alternate, petioled (rarely sessile), exstipulate, simple, almost always entire. Flowers ♀♂ ♀♂ or ♀♂ and ♂ in the same inflorescences, usually protogynous, usually actinomorphic, rarely slightly zygomorphic, in axillary or extra-axillary elongated or subcapitate spikes or racemes or in terminal and sometimes axillary panicles. Receptacle (calyx-tube) usually in two distinct parts, the lower receptacle surrounding and adnate to the inferior ovary and the upper receptacle produced beyond to form a short or long tube terminating in the calyx-lobes, the latter sometimes poorly developed. Calyx-lobes 4 or 5 (rarely 6-8) or almost absent, sometimes accrescent ( Calycopteris). Petals 4 or 5 or absent, conspicuous or sometimes very small, inserted near the mouth of the upper receptacle. Stamens usually twice as many as the petals, borne inside the upper receptacle usually in two series, exserted or included; anthers dorsifixed, usually versatile (or rarely adnate to the filaments). Disk intrastaminal, usually present, hairy or glabrous. Style usually free (attached for part of its length to the upper receptacle in Quisqualis). Ovary inferior (semi-inferior in the West-African genus Strephonema), unilocular, with usually 2 (sometimes 2-6) pendulous, anatropous ovules of which only 1 usually developes. Fruit (botanically a pseudocarp) very variable in size and shape, fleshy or dry, usually indehiscent, often variously winged or ridged, 1-seeded. Albumen absent. Distr. 18 genera with c. 450 spp. in the tropics and subtropics: 2 are circumtropical ( Combretum and Terminalia), and are much the largest genera, 1 is confined to North Australia and Queensland (Macropteranthes), 2 confined to tropical Asia ( Finetia and Calycopteris) , 3 occur in Asia and Africa (Anogeissus, Lumnitzera, and Quisqualis), 1 is confined to Madagascar (Calopyxis), 3 are confined to tropical Africa (Guiera, Pteleopsis and Strephonema), 2 occur in tropical Africa and tropical America (Conocarpus and Laguncularia) and the remaining four ( Buchenavia, Bucida, Ramatuela and Thiloa) are confined to tropical and subtropical America.