Plants monoecious or dioecious. Rhizome branched or unbranched, containing sticky wax (balanophorin), smooth or rugose with small scaly warts and/or stellate lenticels. Leaves opposite, alternate and distichous or spiral, or whorled, sessile, fleshy or scale-like. Inflorescences spadixlike, cylindric, ellipsoid, ovoid-globose, or globose, enlarged after anthesis. Male flowers: pedicellate or sessile, subtended by U-shaped or variously reduced bracts. Perianth 3-6-lobed; lobes ovate, lanceolate, or orbicular, concave, isomorphic or heteromorphic, valvate, reflexed at anthesis. Stamens in a hemispheric or ± elongated synandrium; anthers bilocular, usually as numerous as perianth lobes, straight or sometimes U-shaped with a bend near apex of synandrium, occasionally variously fused or interrupted into locelli, transversely or longitudinally dehiscent; pollen white, subconical or globose, smooth or bullate. Spadicles minute, subclavate to clavate, very numerous, congested on female inflorescence. Female flowers: composed of a pistil, congested on main axis or also on basal stipe of spadicles. Ovary ellipsoid to fusiform, 1-loculed, attenuate toward both ends; ovules anatropous, shortly stiped. Style elongated, persistent. Fruit exocarp crustaceous.