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Trees, shrubs or lianas. Leaves alternate, simple, entire or rarely sinuate-dentate, pinnately veined, petiolate, exstipulate. Inflorescences cymose or paniculate with cymose branches, terminal, axillary or supra-axillary, bracteate; pedicels mostly articulate below calyx. Flowers small, perfect or sometimes polygamous or unisexual, hypogynous; calyx fleshy, with imbricate or open lobes, often persistent; petals 5, rarely 4-6, free or sometimes united, valvate, usually fleshy, apex often inflexed; stamens 5, rarely 4, alternating with petals, filaments often fleshy, anthers mostly 4-celled, rarely 2-celled, basi- or dorsifixed, longitudinally dehiscent, dehistence introrse or lateral; ovary 1-celled or rarely 2-3-celled, sometimes with disk or disk-like base, with 2pendulous, anatropous, mostly collateral ovules, style 1, stigma capitate or rarely 3-lobed. Fruit drupaceous, 1-celled, rarely 2-3-celled; seed 1, embryo small or large, endosperm copious.


Guianas present, Neotropics present, tropics and subtropics present
About 60 genera with over 380 species in the tropics and subtropics, about 12 genera with about 70 species in the Neotropics, 7 genera and 12(-15) species in the Guianas.


Three genera, Casimirella, Leretia, and Pleurisanthes, are represented in this study by lianas only. The wood anatomical characteristics of these three taxa differ substantially from the others, and are not inclu- ded in the description of the family characteristics.
Vessels diffuse, solitary (and solitary and multiples in Discophora), perforations scalariform, but simple and scalariform in Discophora; intervascular pits scarce, usually transitional between scalariform and opposite, or opposite, and occasionally alternate.
Rays in two types, uni-biseriate (1000-3300 μm high) and multiseriate (5-10 cells wide), very high, over 5800-12000 μm, heterogeneous, composed of procumbent, square and upright cells, sometimes with many sheath cells, rhombic crystals common, sometimes absent. Parenchyma mainly apotracheal in short, wavy, tangential bands, one cell wide, and diffuse, also some scanty paratracheal cells. Rhombic crystals common in Dendrobangia.
Fibres non-septate, (very) thick-walled with a small lumen, with conspicuous bordered pits.
Special characteristics
Included phloem present in Casimirella, Leretia, and Pleurisanthes.