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Trees and shrubs, unarmed; branches erect or subscandent, terete or compressed, glabrous or pubescent. Leaves opposite or in whorls of 4, to irregularly or rarely alternate, sometimes fasciculate; petiolate; blades entire, coriaceous or membranous, glabrous or pubescent. Inflorescences sometimes cauliflorous, axillary or terminal, erect or pendent, pedunculate, dichotomously branched cyme, corymbiform cymes, panicles or thyrses, or flowers sometimes solitary. Flowers unisexual (sometimes bisexual in N. floribunda), dioecious, small; sessile or pedicellate, often minutely 1-3-5-bracteolate at base; female flower buds long-acuminate at apex. Male perianth urceolate, globose or elongate, shortly 4- to 5-dentate, teeth induplicate-valvate; stamens 5-10, included, anthers oblong. Female perianth urceolate or tubular-urceolate, constricted above ovary, 4-5-dentate, often contracted at mouth; staminodes often longer than ovary, with distinct, sterile anthers; ovary narrowly ovoid, sessile, included in fleshy base of perianth, style terminal, filiform, stigma exserted, fimbriate. Anthocarps ellipsoid, eglandular, usually crowned by persistent free portion of perianth, often indurate, smooth, striate or costate; seed with hyaline testa adherent to pericarp, embryo straight, cotyledons broad, endosperm scanty, fleshy, radicle short, inferior, horizontal.


Guianas present, South Florida present, Southern America, tropical America present
About 83 species, in South Florida, the West Indies, and tropical America; in the Guianas 5 species.


The genus is named for Luis Nee, a French botanical collector on the Malaspina Expedition (1789-1794) to South and Central America, Mexico, California, the Marianas and Philippines; he earlier became a naturalized Spanish citizen and was associated with the Botanical Gardens in Madrid.