Trees, shrubs, or woody climbers, deciduous or evergreen. Leaves alternate, simple or odd pinnately compound; stipules absent. Inflorescences axillary or terminal, usually in cymes or panicles, or sometimes solitary axillary flowers. Flowers bisexual or polygamous-dioecious, actinomorphic or zygomorphic, small or minute. Sepals (4 or)5[or 3, 6, or 7], free or united at base, imbricate, equal or unequal. Petals (4 or)5(or 6)[or 7], imbricate, equal or inner 2 much smaller than outer 3. Stamens (4 or)5, opposite petals, attached to petals at base or free, all fertile or outer 3 infertile; anthers 2-celled, with narrow connectives or with thick cupular connectives. Disk cupular or annular, small. Ovary superior, sessile, 2(or 3)-loculed, with 1 or 2 half-anatropous ovules per locule. Fruit a drupe or schizocarp, consisting of 1 or 2 mature carpels, 1(or 2)-loculed, indehiscent. Seed 1; endosperm (if present) reduced to a very thin layer; cotyledons duplicate, radicle curved.
Three genera and ca. 80 species: tropical and E Asia, Central and South America; two genera and 46 species (17 endemic) in China.
Wu Young-fen & Law Yuh-wu. 1985. Sabiaceae. In: Law Yuh-wu & Lo Hsien-shui, eds., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 47(1): 72-132.
This family was recently treated by Kubitzki (Fam. Gen. Vasc. Pl. 9: 413-417. 2007).