Monoecious or dioecious herbs, shrubs or trees often with the stems diferentiated into 2 or 3 types (long shoots of unlimited growth and intermediate or short shoots of limited growth), with or without a usually simple indumentum. Leaves also often of 2 types (scale-like cataphylls on the long and short shoots and foliage-leaves usually only on the intermediate shoots). Foliage leaves alternate, often distichous, shortly petiolate, stipulate, simple, entire, penninerved. Cataphyll-stipules larger than those of the foliage leaves. Flowers small, axillary, solitary, geminate or fasciculate. Male flowers: pedicels often capillary; sepals 4-6, biseriate, imbricate, subequal; petals 0; disc-glands 4-6, free, rarely annular or 0; stamens 2-6, filaments free or connate, anthers basifixed, extrorse, oblong, didymous or reniform, the cells parallel or convergent, longitudinally, obliquely or transversely dehiscent; pistillode 0. Female flowers: pedicels more robust than the ♂; sepals ± as in the ♂; disc annular or cupular, entire or lobed, rarely of separate glands; ovary 3-∞-celled, with 2 ovules per cell: styles 3-∞, free or connate, bifid or bibbed, usually recurved. Fruits 3-∞-celled, dehiscent into bivalved cocci, baccate or drupaceous; endocarp usually crustaceous. Seeds trigonous, segmentiform, rarely ovoid, ecarunculate; testa crustaceous; albumen fleshy; cotyledons flat or flexuous.