Mostly lianas or creeper, rarely trees, erect shrubs or herbs, with copious watery juice. Leaves mostly petiolate, alternate, stipulate or exstipulate, simple or palmately lobed or compound or rarely pinnately compound, often pellucidpunctate. Inflorescence umbellate, paniculate or spicate, leaf-opposed cymes or racemes, peduncles often modified into unbranched or branched tendrils, sometimes terminating in sticky discs. Flowers small, bisexual or unisexual (plants then dioecious or polygamomonoecious), actinomorphic, tetra-or pentamerous, hypogynous, bracteolate, sepals (3-) 4-5 (-7), united into an entire or (3-) 4-5 (-7) lobed or toothed cupular calyx. Petals (3-) 4-5
(-7), free or united at the base or apex, valvate, caducous. Stamens as many as and oppostie the petals, inserted below the disc, anthers free or coherent, dithecous, introrse, rarely extrorse, longitudinally dehiscent. Carpels 2, rarely 3-6 (-8) syncarpous; ovary superior, 2-(3-6) loculed, ovules anatropous, (1-) 2 in each locule on axile placenta; style simple, short, rarely absent; stigma inconspicuous capitate or discoid, rarely 4-lobed. Fruit a 1-4 seeded berry, seeds erect, albuminous.