Description from Flora of China
Trees or shrubs, dioecious or hermaphroditic, rarely polygamous, usually spiny. Leaves alternate, petiolate; stipules small, early caducous; leaf blade pinnate-veined, sometimes 3-5-veined from base, margin glandular-toothed, rarely entire. Inflorescences axillary, or terminal on abbreviated lateral twigs, usually short, lax, racemose, or in form of small paniculate or umbel-like clusters. Flowers hypogynous, unisexual or bisexual, small; pedicels articulate. Sepals 4-7, imbricate, slightly connate at base, green, small. Petals absent. Disk fleshy, entire or comprised of distinct glands. Staminate flowers: stamens many, exserted, filaments free, filiform; anthers ellipsoid, small, versatile, longitudinally dehiscent, connective not projected beyond thecae; disk extrastaminal; abortive ovary much reduced or absent. Pistillate flowers: disk surrounding base of ovary; ovary superior, globose, ovoid, or bottle-shaped, incompletely 2-8-loculed by false septa; placentas 2-ovuled; styles isomerous with placentas, free or united, columnar; stigmas slightly dilated, flattened, reniform, recurved; staminodes usually absent. Fruit a berrylike indehiscent drupe with pyrenes 2 × as many as styles, globose, in dried material characteristically longitudinally angled, squarish or rectangular in longitudinal cross-section, with flattish apex and base, contracted or not at equator, disk persistent at base, style or stigma remnants persistent at apex. Seeds ellipsoid, compressed.
In Chinese species: plants usually dioecious; stamens (10-)15-30(-50), number apparently variable within each species.
Flacourtia species are often cultivated and harvested for fruit, medicinal use, or wood.
Male flowers of Flacourtia are easily confused with those of Xylosma; female flowers of the two genera are easily distinguished by style and stigma morphology, young fruits by style morphology and internal structure.
Flacourtia mollis can be recognized by its leaf indumentum, and F. indica (as defined here) by its leaf size and shape. The remaining three species are much more difficult, at least from herbarium material, as staminate flowers seem to offer no useful characters; leaves on flowering specimens are often young, and therefore, generally small, and in all three species the leaf shape and size is variable, with character states overlapping between the species. Flacourtia jangomas usually has ovate to ovate-elliptic or more rarely ovate-lanceolate leaves, and F. ramontchi elliptic leaves, but all of these shapes seem to occur also in F. rukam. Most flora keys rely heavily on style characters to distinguish species. Staminate herbarium material might easily be misidentified. A molecular study based on fertile material could help resolve this problem.
Between 15 and 17 species: tropical Africa and Asia; five species (one endemic) in China.