Erect or scandent shrubs and undershrubs with rhizomes or bulbs, dioecious or rarely bisexual; branches often spiny. Leaves simple, alternate or opposite, petiolate, with or without tendrils. Flowers in axillary racemes or umbels, unisexual, rarely bisexual. Perianth of 3 + 3, segments rarely gamophyllous. Male flower : stamens (3-) 6 (-15), anther cells 1-chambered, filaments free or united. Female flower: staminodes 3-6; ovary superior, tri-carpellary, syncarpous; stigmas sessile, 3. Fruit a 1-3-seeded berry.