Dioecious or polygamodioecious shrubs or trees, often spiny. Leaves simple, alternate or opposite, covered with scales or stellate hairs, exstipulate. Flowers in racemes, spikes or fascicles, sometimes bisexual, regular, 2-4-merous. Perianth tubular or campanulate, 2-4(-6) lobed, constricted below. Stamens as many as or twice the number of tepals, perigynous; anthers bilocular, dehiscing longitudinally. Ovary unilocular, with 1 basal ovule. Fruit a false drupe, enclosed by the persistent lower perianth half, the hypanthium.