Deciduous trees or shrubs. Leaves alternate, simple, entire or palmately lobed or digitately compound; stipules fugacious. Inflorescence an axillary or terminal panicle or raceme. Flowers unisexual and bisexual on the same plant (plants polygamous) or only unisexual (monoecious), terminal mostly pistillate and precocious, usually actinomorphic, pedicellate. Calyx tubular or campanulate, usually 4-5-lobed. Petals absent. Stamens 10-30, monadelphous into a short or long column. Carpels (3-) 4-5, syncarpous, becoming free in fruit; ovary usually sessile, locules as many as carpels, 2-many ovuled; style with 4-5-lobed or peltate stigma. Fruit an etaerio of stellately spreading, ventrally dehiscent, woody follicles. Seeds 1-many, oblong, brown or velvety black.