Erect shrubs or small trees of terrestial, semiaquatic or epiphytic habitat; stems simple or branched (sometimes very short), or procumbent and rooting. Leaves arranged terminally in spirals, linear-ensiform or lanceolate, margin and midrib spinous, sheathing at base. Inflorescence axillary or terminal. Flowers always unisexual. Male flowers in a spadix with number of white or yellowish green spathes; filaments smooth; anther oblong-linear, apex apiculate. Female flowers enveloped by leafy spathes; staminode absent; ovaries uni-docular, free or in phalanges, ovule solitary; stigma sessile or style partly developed; stigma variously shaped (round, deltiod, linear etc.), forked, dentate or spiny. Fruiting head an aggregate of fibrous, woody drupes or phalanges. Seeds target large, albuminous.