This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Shrubs or trees, mostly with a milky juice. Leaves alternate, simple, entire, pinnately-veined, mostly coriaceous and exstipulate. Flowers small, regular and perfect, in axillary clusters. Calyx inferior, polysepalous; segments usually 4-7, persistent, much imbricated. Corolla gamopetalous, the tube campanulate or urceolate, 4-7-lobed, the lobes imbricated in the bud, sometimes with as many or twice as many lobe-like appendages borne on the throat. Stamens as many as the proper lobes of the corolla and inserted on its tube; staminodia usually present, alternate with the corolla-lobes; filaments mostly short, subulate; anthers attached by their bases to the filaments, or versatile, 2-celled, the sacs longitudinally dehiscent. Ovary superior, 2-5-celled, or rarely many-celled; ovules solitary in each cavity, anatropous or amphitropous; style conic or subulate; stigma simple. Fruit a fleshy berry, commonly 1-celled and 1-seeded, sometimes several-seeded. Seed large, the testa bony or crustaceous; embryo straight; endosperm fleshy, or none; cotyledons thick.
About 35 genera and 425 species, mostly of tropical regions in both the Old World and the New. Besides the following, 4 other genera occur in south Florida.