Small trees or understory shrubs. Stipules wanting. Leaves alternate, trifoliolate or less often unifoliolate; petioles as long as the blade or shorter; leaflets entire or serrate. Inflorescence a racemiform or paniculate thyrse, with flowers in lateral cincinni. Flowers zygomorphic, functionally pistillate or staminate; calyx 4(5)-merous, with bilateral or dorsiventral-transverse symmetry; petals 4, auriculateor with a bifid appendage; disc unilateral, semi annular, 4-lobed or less often 2-lobed; stamens 8, the filaments unequal, connate at base, variously pubescent or glabrous; ovary 2(3)-carpellate, with a single ovule per carpel. Fruit of 1(-2)basally connate, monocarps (one of them usually much smaller or one or two carpels aborted or rudimentary), each monocarp late, irregularly dehiscent, with fleshy exocarp, and with a crustose or woody endocarp. Seeds exarillate, with papery testa.
Guianas: present Neotropics: present Pantropical: present
A taxonomically difficult, pantropical genus with many of its putative species showing clinal variation, and whose number of recognized species varying from one to about 250 according to authors. The genus has never been monographed satisfactorily and much work remains to be done. About 100 species occur in the Neotropics, 6 occurring in the Guianas.