Trees, shrubs, or lianas, root-parasites. Leaves without stipules, petiolate, distichous, simple; blades often coriaceous, in dried state mostly finely tubercled by cystoliths located in the mesophyll, usually extremely variable in form and size, entire, mostly glabrous, venation pinnate. Inflorescences axillary or cauliflorous, racemose; bracts very small, often scale-like, caducous. Flowers pedicellate, actinomorphic, 4-5-merous, unisexual and plants dioecious; perianth with valvate, free tepals; stamens as many as and opposite to the tepals (in female flowers wanting), anthers introrse, 2-celled, longitudinally dehiscent; disc intrastaminal, lobed (lobes alternating with the stamens), or annular; pistil 1; ovary superior, 1-celled, style short or none, stigma entire or shallowly lobed; ovule 1, pendulous from the apex of a central placenta, anatropous and unitegmic, sometimes integument not differentiated (Agonandra). Fruit drupaceous, pericarp rather thin, mesocarp fleshy-juicy, endocarp woody or crustaceous; seed large, conform to the drupe, embryo terete, embedded in rich, oily endosperm, nearly as long as the seed, with 3-4linear cotyledons, radicle often very small.