Seed with a leathery testa; albumen thick and hard; embryo linear or slightly fusiform, longitudinally embedded in the seed; cotyledons minute or absent; endosperm absent.
Fruit an ellipsoid to pyriform drupe, smooth or ridged, usually 1-locular and 1-seeded.
Inflorescences many-flowered, spike-like, racemose or paniculate, axillary or supra-axillary, solitary or serial, ± slender, ebracteate or with minute, brownish, pubescent, soon caducous bracts.
Flowers small, unisexual, polygamous or more usually bisexual, sessile.
Undershrubs, shrubs or trees, usually glabrous, with young shoots often pubescent or pilose, without aerial roots.
Leaves alternate, shortly petiolate, exstipulate, often with alternating reduced stipuliform leaves; leaf-lamina usually ± elliptic, entire, often inequilateral, with 2–6 lateral nerves curving up from near the base and soon becoming subparallel, leathery to papery, mostly ± glabrous with age.
Disk obscure, crenulate or lobed.
Stamens twice as many as the petals, inserted at the mouth of the calyx-tube or sometimes the epipetalous ones adnate to the basal parts of the petals; filaments short, usually unequal in length, subulate or narrowly linear; anthers small, ellipsoid or ovoid, didymous.
Calyx pilose; calyx-tube campanulate, adnate to the ovary; calyx-lobes (3)4–5(7), ± deltate, acute at the apex, ± erect.
Petals scarcely longer than the calyx-lobes, lobed or laciniate (rarely entire), involute, inserted at the mouth of the calyx-tube.
Ovary inferior, (3)4(8)-locular, each locule 1-ovulate; styles (3)4(8), short, subulate, ± thickened below, erect or recurved, ± free, arising from the epigynous disk.
Flowers small, numerous, in spikes
Calyx-lobes (? 3–) 4–5, ± triangular-deltoid, ± erect
Ovary inferior; styles 4–5 (–8), ± thickened below; ovules solitary in each cell
Stamens twice as many as the calyx-lobes; anthers didymous
The species known from our area also have the following characters in common:Leaves usually narrowly to broadly elliptic or lanceolate, more rarely ovate or rotund. Calyx-lobes 4 (–7), glabrous within. Petals 4 (–6), divided above. Stamens 8 (–12), with ± raised ± convoluted or muricate glands between their bases. Styles 4 (–5).
Leaves of the larger sort alternate, shortly petiolate, entire, exstipulate, usually ± elliptic, usually glabrous at maturity, usually with 2–6 lateral nerves curving up from near the base to become subparallel