Mostly evergreen trees or shrubs with oil glands in leaves and often in other parts, rarely herbaceous. Leaves simple, entire or occasionally crenate, ciliate or laciniate, alternate or opposite, rarely whorled, usually exstipulate. Inflorescence axillary or terminal, of single flowers or variously grouped into simple or compound panicle (conflorescence) or dichasial cymes, corymbs or glomerules. Flowers bisexual or rarely unisexual by abortion, perigynous or epigynous, actinomorphic or sometimes zygomorphic, usually with 2 bracteoles at the base, receptacle ± hollow and united to gynoecium to form hypanthium. Sepals (4-) 5 (-10), free and imbricate or fused to form an operculum or calyptra, deciduous as a lid. Petals 4-5, free or fused into a calyptra (lid) in bud, greenish-white, cream-colored or pink to deep red, imbricate, sometimes reduced or absent. Stamens (4-) 5, 10 or numerous, epigynous around thickened disc, uni- to multiseriate, free or connate at base into bundles, filaments usually inflexed, anthers mostly short, basifixed to versatile, bilocular, dehiscing by longitudinal slits or pores, connective often gland-tipped, staminodes occasionally present. Ovary superior to inferior, (1-) 10-loculed, ovules anatropous or campylotropous, 2 to numerous in each locule on axile or rarely parietal placenta; style simple, terminal, elongate; stigma capitate or peltate. Fruit a fleshy berry or drupe or a loculicidally dehiscent capsule with exserted, level or enclosed (inwardly directed)` valves. Seeds with little or no endosperm.