Herbs, shrubs or trees - or rarely woody vines, with alternate, simple, entire leaves; stipules minute or O. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, racemose or cymose, mostly bracteate. Flowers small, hermaphrodite or unisexual (and then plants monoecious), mostly actinomorphic. Calyx of 4-5 free or somewhat connate sepals. Petals O. Stamens 3 to many or of same number as sepals, often inserted on a hypogynous disk; filaments free or connate at base; staminodes sometimes petaloid. Gynoecium apocarpous or syncarpous, made of 2 to many carpels; ovary superior, rarely inferior; style 1 or O; stigmas as many as carpels, usually linear to filiform. Fruit a berry, drupe, schizocarp, utricle or achene. Seeds often arillate with copious endosperm surrounded by the embryo.