Perennials, a few herbs or shrublets. Leaves entire, alternate or opposite, usually numerous, exstipulate. Flowers rarely solitary, in racemes, spikes or fascicles; bisexual, regular. Calyx tubular, 4-5 lobed; lobes imbricate. Petals small or absent. Stamens as many as or double the number of lobes, episepalous. Carpels 1-2, rarely more, syncarpous; ovary unilocular, with one laterally attached pendulous ovule; style simple. Fruit a berry or a drupe. Seeds solitary.