Monoecious or apparently dioecious shrubs or small trees with or without a simpe indumentum, often blackening on drying. Cataphylls present, as in Phyllanthus
(q v.). Leaves alternate, shortly petiolate, stipulate, simple, entire, penninerved, arranged on shoots of limited growth (plagiotropic shoots). Flowers axillary, the ♂'s fasciculate or solitary in the proximal axils, the ♀'s solitary in the distal axils. Male flowers: pedicels often capillary; calyx obconic or turbinate; calyx-lobes 6, imbricate, the distal halves sharply inflexed with their apices almost touching the androecium; petals 0; disc 0; stamens 3, united to form a short column, anthers elongate, the cells linear, extrorse, adnate to the column, longitudinally dehiscent; pistillode 0. Female flowers: pedicels capillary or not; calyx-lobes 6, imbricate, not inflexed, usually larger than those of the ♂ flower, accrescent; disc 0; ovary 3-celled, with 2 ovules per cell; styles 3, free, short, erect, simple or bifid. Fruit tardily and often incompletely loculicidally dehiscent; exocarp sometimes somewhat fleshy; endocarp crustaceous. Seeds trigonous, ecarunculate.