Shrubs rarely perennial herbs with scaly buds. Leaves opposite or whorled rarely becoming alternate at the ends of young shoots, simple, exstipulate. Inflores¬cence an axillary or terminal raceme. Flowers bisexual or unisexual (plants then dioecious or polygamous), actinomorphic, pentamerous, hypogynous. Sepals 5, free. Petals 5, free, deeply carinate on the dorsal side. Stamens 10, all free or 5 of outer series free and 5 antipetalous ones of inner series adnate to the carina of petals. Carpels 5-10, free in a single whorl. Fruit a drupaceous collection (etaerio) of 5-10, single-seeded achenes, firmly enclosed by persistent, succulent, coloured petals. Seed pendulous; endosperm scanty or absent.