Shrubs up to 4 m tall; branches aromatic, thorny and knotty with papery bark. Leaves sessile, alternate or fascicled, 1-3-foliolate; leaflets glabrous, the terminal sessile or subsessile, obovate, serrate (sometimes serrate only towards the apex), 1-5 cm long, 0.5-2.5 cm broad, lateral when present sessile, serrate or entire, less than half the size of the terminal leaflet. Plants dimorphic, one having bisexual and male flowers, and the other having female flowers with staminodes. Bisexual and male flowers sessile, 3-5 mm long, usually red, sometimes pinkish white. Bracts 2, opposite, glandular hairy. Calyx fused basally with the disc; tubular or urceolate, 1-2 mm long; lobes usually triangular, valvate, glandular hairy outside. Petals reflexed, acute, 3-5 mm long, c. 1 mm broad. Stamens 8, very rarely 10, 3-5 mm long, free, alternately short and long, included, sometimes equalling the petals. Disc conspicuous, toothed; shorter stamens inserted alternately in deeper sinuses. Ovary 2-loculed with sessile 2-lobed stigma. Fruit up to 1 cm long, red when ripe, marked with 2 white longitudinal lines (or grooves), mucronate; mesocarp yellow, rarely orange, 4 lined and fused at the base; epicarp dehiscing from the base upwards on maturation. In female flowers, sepals 2 mm long, petals 3-4 mm long, 1 mm broad; staminodes 8, alternately short and long, l-1.5 mm long; ovary and fruit the same as in bisexual flowers.