Slender woody climbers. Leaves often peltate, palmately nerved. Inflorescences axillary, terminal or cauliflorous, pseudoracemose or thyrsoid. Seed horse-shoe-shaped;
Asia-Tropical: Borneo present; India present; Jawa (Jawa present); Malaya present; Philippines (Philippines present); Sumatera (Sumatera present); Thailand (Thailand present), Central and S. China present
India to Central and S. China, Thailand, Indochina; in Malesia: Sumatra, Malaya, Java, Borneo, Philippines. About 29 spp., of which 9 in Malesia.
Species with free sepals are now included in Cyclea; the calyx of the male flowers is distinguished from that of Stephania by the single whorl of sepals in contrast to the two whorls in Stephania. The inflorescences of Cyclea and Stephania can easily be distinguished. Cyclea has thyrses (in some species the lateral branches are reduced to sessile clusters along the main axis), whereas in all Asiatic species of Stephania the inflorescence is umbelliform or composed of umbelliform parts, which are sometimes reduced to peduncled, disciform capitula. It is noteworthy that the fruits of Stephania are always glabrous although they are sometimes hairy in Cyclea.