Trees, shrubs or climbers; spiny or not. Leaves simple, opposite or alternate, stipulate, often coriaceous. Flowers small. actinomorphic, bisexual or polygamous, usually in cymes. Calyx small, 4-5, imbricate, inserted on the disc. Petals 4-5, rarely absent, small, green, inserted below the disc or continous with the margin, imbricate. Stamens 3-5, inserted on the disc, alternating with the petals. Gynoecium 2-5-carpellary, 2-5-celled, surrounded or partly sunk in the disc; ovules usually 2 in each cell; style absent or short. Fruit variable, a loculicidal capsule, a samara, a dupe or a berry. Seeds often arillate, sometimes winged, usually endospermic.