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Terrestrial or rarely epiphytic, caulescent, erect, rarely scandent herbs or shrubs, without modified stems. Stems rarely branched. Leaves opposite, rarely ternate, equal to unequal in a pair, venation pinnate, foliar nectaries absent. Flowers axillary, rarely solitary, but more usually in few-many fasciculate, epedunculate to long-pedunculate, cymose or subumbellate inflorescences; bracteoles absent; short or long pedicellate. Calyx lobes 5, usually connate at base into a short or long tube; corolla yellow, orange, red, or white, usually cylindric with 5 lobes; stamens included, filaments usually not connate, anthers coherent at first, becoming free, dehiscing by longitudinal slits, thecae parallel to divergent; staminode occasionally developing; disc annular, entire; ovary superior, stigma stomatomorphic to 2-lobed. Fruit a fleshy, indehiscent, red, orange, or white berry.


Guianas present, Northern America, Southern America, northwestern S America present
About 200 species from Mexico to Brazil and the West Indies, from an apparent center in northwestern S America; 7 species in the Guianas.


Chromosome number n=16 (Skog 1984).


Miquel () described Besleria surinamensis from Suriname. Pulle () renamed the species as Besleria verrucosa (Splitg. ex de Vriese) Pulle based on Clerodendrum verrucosum Splitg. ex de Vriese (). This species has been identified as Trichanthera gigantea (Humb. & Bonpl.) Nees, a member of the ACANTHACEAE.
A single collection of Besleria lutea L. is labeled "French Guiana". The specimen at P was collected by L.C. Richard, but the locality is doubtful. The specimen was probably collected in the French Antilles where the species is well known.
Leeuwenberg (1958: 369) reported a collection of Besleria lanceolata Urb. in P-LA labeled "French Guiana". Leeuwenberg believed it to have been collected in Martinique where it is endemic.