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Erect or climbing glabrous herbs. Leaves usually cauline and distichous or basally rosulate, linear, distally dorsiven- tral, in the lower parts sometimes laterally compressed and keeled and often forming a closed sheath at the base. Inflorescence a panicle. Ovary superior, more or less sessile, globose, 3-celled; Fruit a berry, usually shiny blue; Seeds globose or angled.


Asia-Temperate, Asia-Tropical: India present, Australasia, Continental Africa present, Madagascar present, New Caledonia present, New Zealand present, Norfolk present, Pacific: Fiji (Fiji present), Pacific Islands present, Sandwich Is present
Continental Africa (one record), Madagascar, through India into China, throughout Malesia and Australia to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands (New Caledonia, Sandwich Is., Norfolk and Fiji).
Estimates of the number of species vary widely; there are possibly 20-30 spp. in all.


Schlittler 1940 – In: Mitt. Bot. Mus. Un. Zurich: 256
ex Juss. 1789: Gen. Pl.: 47
Bth. 1878 – In: Fl. Austr.: 13
Hutch. 1959 – In: Fam. Fl. Pl., ed. 2: 606
Back. 1924 – In: Handb. Fl. Java: 53
Baker 1875 – In: J. Linn. Soc. Bot.: 574
Lamk 1948 – In: Blumea: 200
Krause 1930 – In: E. & P., Nat. Pfl. Fam., ed. 2, 15a: 295