Erect herbs or scandent shrubs with alternate leaves and branches, leaves entire. Flowers bibracteolate, hermaphrodite or unisexual, in axillary or terminal, bracteate, frequently paniculate racemes or spikes, each bract subtending a single flower; bracts and bracteoles small, membranous. Perianth segments (4-) 5, the perianth not deciduous with the fruit. Stamens (4-)5, shortly monadelphous at the base, pseudo-staminodes absent. Style short, stigmas 2-3 (-4), linear or clavate. Ovary with few to many ovules pendulous on slender funicles. Fruit a thin-walled fleshy berry. Seeds black or brownish, compressed, shining, verruculose to reticulate.