Shrubs or perennial herbs with reddish-brown to pale branches, often verruculose, armed or unarmed. Leaves simple or compound, alternate or crowded on short shoots. Inflorescence racemose, cymose or fasciclulate. Flowers 2-3-merous, bisexual, regular, mostly yellowish, pedicellate. Perianth free, usually in 3-4 wohrls, each whorl of 2-3 segments, outer 1-3 whorls sepaloid, inner whorl petaloid, sometimes modified, usually with a pair of glands at the base. Stamens 4-6, often in 2 whorls of 3 each, mostly shorter than petals; anthers introrse, usually opning by 2 posterior valves which curl backwards facing the centre of flower. Ovary oblong to suborbicular, superior, monocarpellate, 1-celled with 1-several ovules on basal or lateral placenta. Fruit a berry, rarely a dry, dehiscent capsule, 1-several seeded; seeds often large with copious endosperm and straight embryo.