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Shrubs or trees; unarmed, glabrous or branchlets often rufous-puberulent. Leaves usually opposite; petiolate; blade entire, often coriaceous. Inflorescences lateral and/or terminal, pedunculate paniculate-corymbose cymes; flowers unisexual, dioecious, small, reddish, yellowish-green, or greenish-white; sessile or pedicellate; exinvolucrate, 2- or 3-bracteolate at base. Male perianth obconic-campanulate, limb 5-dentate, teeth short, induplicate-valvate; stamens 6-10, exserted, filaments short-connate at base, anthers oblong, staminodes present; rudimentary pistil often present. Female perianth tubular, limb narrow, shallowly 5-dentate, in bud rounded or obtuse at apex, rarely with staminodes; ovary elongate-ovoid, sessile, style usually short-exserted; stigma fimbriate or fimbriate-lacerate. Anthocarps drupaceous, red to black, exocarp fleshy, juicy, utricle elongate, papyraceous to coriaceous, striate; seed with hyaline testa adherent to pericarp, embryo straight, cotyledons broad, enclosing scanty endosperm, radicle short, inferior.


Central and South America present, Guianas present, Southern America
About 70 species in Central and South America, and the West Indies; 4 species in the Guianas.