Dioecious or rarely monoecious trees or shrubs. Indumentum usually stellate. Leaves alternate or opposite, petiolate, stipulate, simple or lobate, entire or toothed, with 2 or more basal glands above and minutely gland-dotted on the surface especially beneath, penninerved or palminerved, sometimes. peltate. Stipules subulate. Inflorescences usually terminal, spicate, racemose or thyrsiform, few or many-flowered, unisexual; ♂ bracts many-flowered; 4 bracts 1-flowered. Flowers appearing with the leaves. Male flowers: buds globose or ellipsoid, later splitting into 3-4 (-5) valvate lobes; petals 0; disc 0 or +; stamens ∞, filaments free, anthers subdorsifixed, the cells separated by a connective variable in form, longitudinally dehiscent; pistillode 0. Female flowers: calyx 3-5 (-10)-lobed, the lobes slightly imbricate to valvate, often subspathaceous and caducous; petals 0; disc 0; ovary (2-) 3(-4)-celled, with 1 ovule per cell; styles free or connate at the base, ± elongate, undivided, papillose or plumose. Fruit globose or (2-) 3 (-4)-lobed, smooth, echinate or tuberculate, usually septicidally dehiscent. Seeds ovoid or globose, usually smooth, ecarunculate but with a sarcotesta; endotesta crustaceous; albumen fleshy; cotyledons broad and flat.