Vines, woody, monoecious or dioecious. Stipules absent. Leaves alternate or ± clustered, simple, petiolate. Flowers axillary to leaves on ultimate branches or in axils of fugacious bracts near base of ultimate shoots, generally solitary but occasionally in pairs or clusters to 8, unisexual, hypogynous, with few to numerous parts generally spirally arranged, pedunculate. Perianth segments not as separate sepals and petals, distinct, outermost and innermost sometimes reduced. Staminate flowers: stamens 4-80, ± distinct, distinct but basally connate, or connate as a fleshy synandrium or tightly compressed; anthers basifixed (except Schisandra plena), thecae dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Pistillate flowers: carpels 12 to ca. 300, developmentally conduplicate; stigmatic crest as unvascularized "pseudostyle," sometimes modified as peltate "pseudostigma"; ovary unilocular; ovules 2-5(-11) per ovary, anatropous, ventrally attached or pendulous, 2-tegmic, crassinucellar. Fruit aggregates of apocarps; receptacle ellipsoid or elongate; apocarps with fleshy pericarp. Seeds 1-5(or more) per apocarp, ventrally attached or pendulous, laterally flattened; endosperm copious, oily.
Two genera and 39 species: mainly in E and SE Asia but one species of Schisandra in North America; two genera and 27 species (16 endemic) in China.
Law Yuwu. 1996. Schisandreae. In: Law Yuwu, ed., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 30(1): 231-269, 271-273.