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Trees and shrubs, sometimes scrambling vines, often armed; young branches pubescent, soon becoming glabrous; spines, when present, axillary and/or produced at tip of a patent branch. Leaves opposite or subopposite, petiolate, entire, glabrous or pubescent. Inflorescences axillary or terminal, sessile or pedunculate, few- to many-flowered, paniculate or corymbiform cymes, sometimes umbelliform or thyrsiform, often borne on modified short shoots. Flowers unisexual, dioecious, exinvolucrate; sessile or pedicellate, 2-3-bracteolate, bracteoles often spirally arranged around the pedicel. Male perianth turbinate or obconic-campanulate, with 5-toothed limb, teeth induplicate-valvate; stamens 6-8(-10), exserted, filaments filiform, connate at base, basifixed or dorsifixed, pollen tricolpate; ovary rudimentary. Female perianth tubular to narrowly campanulate or urceolate, with 5-toothed limb; staminodes present, almost as long as ovary or reduced to a disc; style filiform, slightly longer than perianth, stigma fimbriate, ovule basal, anacampylotropous. Anthocarps dry or fleshy, ellipsoid, oblongoid, obovoid or clavate, with accrescent perianth, terete and costate or 5-angled or -ribbed, with viscid stipitate glands in 1-2(-more) rows along costae, angles or ribs, glands with secretive stalk, head not secretive; seed adherent to pericarp, with deep longitudinal furrow, testa hyaline, embryo straight, cotyledons involute, endosperm scanty, perisperm abundant, mealy, radicle short, inferior.


America present, Southeast Asia present, all tropical and subtropical regions present
About 40 species in all tropical and subtropical regions, especially America and Southeast Asia.