Small to large trees, rarely shrubs, pachycaul or leptocaul. Leaves alternate or spirally in whorls at apex or at apex of branches, simple, margins entire or serrate-crenulate, pinnately nerved, usually brochidodromous; Inflorescences terminal, axillary or cauline, simple, often pendulous racemes, or panicles in Chydenanthus and Petersianthus, or rarely flowers solitary. Flowers actinomorphic, hermaphrodite, sessile or pedicellate; Petals 3-5, free, most often 4, aestivation imbricate. Stamens numerous, inserted in 3-8(-12) whorls, usually far-exserted and equalling filaments, connate at base into short staminal ring, the ring actinomorphic, inner whorls often staminodal; Ovary inferior, usually 2-4-locular with 2-6 anatropous ovules in each locule, rarely more; Fruits indehiscent, dry or fleshy, rarely winged. Seeds 1-5(-many in Planchonia), without wings except in Petersianthus;
Africa: present Asia-Tropical:, India ‒ present Pacific: present
Five genera distributed from India to the Pacific. Four genera are relatively small and Barringtonia much larger with 69 species. Petersianthus also has one species in Africa.