Woody climbers or scandent shrubs, sometimes suberect, rarely erect, deciduous or evergreen. Branches terete or flexuose, striate, pubescent or glabrous, unarmed (except S. japonica); branchlets with bud scales persistent at bases, pubescent or glabrous. Leaves simple, glabrous or slightly pubescent, margins mostly entire or sometimes minutely erose, but never toothed, mostly narrowly cartilaginous and revolute. Flowers bisexual, rarely polygamous, axillary, solitary, or few and arranged in cymes or subumbellate panicles, actinomorphic. Sepals (4 or)5[-7], persistent, imbricate, green, white, yellow, or purple. Petals usually (4 or)5(or 6)[or 7], persistent or not, longer than sepals. Stamens (4 or)5(or 6), all fertile; filaments ± flattened, adherent to bases of petals; anthers introrse or extrorse, upright or inflexed. Carpels 2; styles 2, persistent, connate; ovules 2 per carpel, ± superimposed, half-anatropous. Fruit a schizocarp, with 2 drupelets, usually 1 developed, drupelet laterally compressed; mesocarp white, reddish, or blue, rather thin, fleshy; endocarp crustaceous, with prominent veins forming a reticulate pattern (foveolate). Seed 1[or 2], subreniform; testa leathery, dotted; embryo with 2 undulate, or strongly folded cotyledons, radicle curved.