Monoecious or rarely dioecious shrubs or trees with a simple indumentum. Branches sometimes armed with blunt woody thorns. Leaves alternate, shortly petiolate, stipulate, simple, usually entire, penninerved, the nerves straight, arched or looped, the tertiary nerves usually parallel. Flowers small, sessile or subsessile, axillary, solitary, glomerulate or fasciculate, or in spikes or panicles of glomerulate fascicules. Bracts small, scaly. Male glomeruli many-flowered, sometimes with 1-2 ♀ flowers admixed. Male flowers: sepals 5, valvate; petals 5, small, not touching or imbricate; disc annular or cupular, entire or sinuate; stamens 5, the filaments united below into a short column, free and spreading above, anthers horizontal, basifixed, the cells parallel, longitudinally dehiscent; pistillode ampulliform, entire or lobate. Female glomeruli few-flowered, or flowers solitary. Female flowers: sepals and petals ± as in the ♂; disc in 2 whorls, the outer annular, the inner lobed or cupular and surrounding the ovary; ovary 2(-3)-celled, with 2 ovules per cell; styles 2(-3), free or connate at the base, stigmas bifrd or subentire. Fruit an indehiscent berry or drupe, or dehiscent; exocarp fleshy or pulpy; endocarp crustaceous, forming 2 pyrenes, or 1 by abortion. Seeds often solitary in each pyrene by abortion, plano-convex and adaxially grooved (2 pyrenes) or U-shaped in section and adaxially excavate (1 pyrene); albumen copious, fleshy; embryo curved; cotyledons broad, foliaceous, thin.