Trees, shrubs, rarely herbs, sometimes climbers, often polygamous. Bark or pith with resin or gum canals. Leaves simple or compound, alternate, rarely opposite, petiolate, stipulate or not; stipules adnate, rarely free. Inflorescence mostly umbellate, arranged in racemes or panicles, rarely solitary. Pedicels continuous with the base of calyx or jointed. Calyx usually forming a tube, adnate to the ovary. Petals (3-) 5 or more, deciduous or caducous. Stamens free, as many as the petals, inserted around a disc. Ovary inferior, 1-many-locular; styles as many as the locules, free, united, or partly united at the base. Ovule one in each locule. Fruit a drupe or a berry.
The family shows affinities with the Umbelliferae, from which it differs in the presence of usually more than 2 carpels, united styles in some genera, and the fruit being an indehiscent drupe or a berry.