Description from Flora of China
Herbs, shrubs or trees, mostly monoecious, sometimes dioecious; indumentum of simple or sometimes gland-tipped hairs. Leaves alternate; stipules lanceolate or subulate, sometimes minute, deciduous; leaf blade simple, margins crenate or dentate, rarely subentire; venation pinnate or palmate. Inflorescences axillary or terminal, mostly unbranched, bisexual or unisexual, sexes very diversely arranged, mostly bisexual with male flowers in fascicles distally along slender axis, base with 1 to few female flowers, mostly enclosed within prominent leafy bracts. Male flowers sessile; sepals 4, valvate, membranous; petals absent; disk absent; stamens often 8; filaments free; anthers 2-locular, anther-thecae pendulous and vermiform; pistillode absent. Female flowers 1-3 per bract, often sessile; bracts often dentate or lobed, accrescent in fruit; sepals 3-5, shortly connate, imbricate; ovary (2 or)3-locular; styles mostly free, laciniate. Fruit a capsule 2- or 3-lobed, small. Seeds subglobose or ovoid, smooth; caruncle and aril absent.
About 450 species: widely distributed in tropical and subtropical regions; 18 species (seven endemic, two introduced) in China.
(Authors: Qiu Huaxing (丘华兴 Chiu Hua-hsing, Kiu Hua-shing, Kiu Hua-xing); Michael G. Gilbert)