Small to large trees, rarely shrubs, pachycaul or leptocaul. Leaves alternate or spirally in whorls at apex or at apex of branches, simple, margins entire or serrate-crenulate, pinnately nerved, usually brochidodromous; Inflorescences terminal, axillary or cauline, simple, often pendulous racemes, or panicles in Chydenanthus and Petersianthus, or rarely flowers solitary. Flowers actinomorphic, hermaphrodite, sessile or pedicellate; Petals 3-5, free, most often 4, aestivation imbricate. Stamens numerous, inserted in 3-8(-12) whorls, usually far-exserted and equalling filaments, connate at base into short staminal ring, the ring actinomorphic, inner whorls often staminodal; Ovary inferior, usually 2-4-locular with 2-6 anatropous ovules in each locule, rarely more; Fruits indehiscent, dry or fleshy, rarely winged. Seeds 1-5(-many in Planchonia), without wings except in Petersianthus;
Africa present, Asia-Tropical: India present, Pacific present
Five genera distributed from India to the Pacific. Four genera are relatively small and Barringtonia much larger with 69 species. Petersianthus also has one species in Africa.