Shrubs or trees (rarely herbaceous), "with tough fibrous or reticulated inner bark, and simple entire exstipulate leaves. Flowers fascicled, capitate, racemose, or rarely solitary, regular, mostly perfect. Calyx inferior, its tube cylindric or urn-shaped, 4-5-lobed or entire. Petals none in our genera, present in many exotic ones. Stamens borne on the calyx, twice as many as its lobes, or rarely fewer, often in two series; filaments long or short; anthers erect, 2-celled, the sacs longitudinally dehiscent. Ovary I-celled, U-ovuled (2-celled and 2-ovuled in some Asiatic and Australasian genera); ovule anatropous, pendulous; style short or elongated; stigma terminal, mostly capitate. Fruit a berry-like drupe in our plants. Seed-coat mostly crustaceous; embryo straight; cotyledons fleshy; endosperm little or none, or copious in some exotic genera.

About 37 genera and 425 species, widely distributed, most abundant in Australia and South Africa.

Calyx-lobes 4, large; stamens included; style very short.



Calyx-limb almost wanting; stamens and style long, exserted.