Shrubs or trees. Leaves alternate, often crowded near the extremities of branches, leaf scars distinct on the branches; stipules small, caducous. Flowers in lateral or terminal racemes or occasionally in interrupted spikes. Calyx 2-4-lobed, adnate to the ovary. Petals 4, rarely 5, imbricate, somewhat adnate to the staminal tube. Stamens many in several series, connate at the base into a thick tube, filaments of the inner whorl reduced to small, ± bristle-like staminodes; anthers basifixed, dehiscing laterally. Staminal disc usually distinct around the style. Ovary 2-4-loculed with 2-many pendulous ovules per locule; style long and simple. Fruit fibrous or leathery, indehiscent, sometimes winged, 1-seeded. Seed usually spindle-shaped, embryo without cotyledons but with a spiral of minute scales towards the apex.