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Herbs, shrubs or rarely trees. Leaves sessile or petiolate; stipules absent. Inflorescences mostly terminal racemes or spikes, occasionally thyrsiform or paniculiform below; bracts 1-3, at base of pedicel; bracteoles randomly inserted along pedicel. Flowers bisexual, or unisexual and dioecious; sessile or pedicellate; tepals 5, free, equal or subequal; stamens (5-)8-22(-33), in 1 or 2 whorls, on a hypogynous disk; ovary 5-16-carpellate, carpels free or united, ovule 1 per carpel, basal, campylotropous, styles free, spreading or appressed-recurved. Fruits aggregations of 1-seeded drupelets ("berries") or syncarpous 5-16-loculed berries; seed 1 per cell, reniform or subreniform, black, shining, endosperm mealy, embryo curved or annular.


Guianas present, New World tropics and subtropics present, nearly cosmopolitan present
Approximately 26 species, nearly cosmopolitan and with most species in the New World tropics and subtropics; 2 species in the Guianas.