Trees and shrubs, usually unarmed. Leaves alternate, petiolate, exstipulate. Inflorescence many-flowered axillary cyme. Flowers small, often fragrant, bisexual, actinomorphic, epigynous, bracteate. Sepals 4-10, united into a more or less truncate or 4-10 toothed tube, persistent. Petals 4-10, free rarely united at the base, linear-oblong. Stamens 4-40, free or slightly united at the base, sometimes adnate to petals, filaments short, arising from disc, often villous inside. Disc conspicuous, enlarged and cupular, rarely absent. Carpels 2-3, syncarpous; ovary adnate to the calyx tube; style simple, filiform, with simple or 2-3 lobed, capitate or clavate stigma. Fruit an ellipsoid-globose, flattened drupe crowned by sepals and disc. Seed oblong, endospermous.
A small unigeneric family, chiefly distributed in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia and Australia.
This family was previously included in the Cornaceae from which it differs in its subulate bracts, articulated pedicels, pollen development and bitegmic ovule.
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture for financing this research under P.L. 480. Thanks are also due to Mr. B.L. Burtt, Mr. I.C. Hedge and Miss J. Lamond of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, for their helpful suggestions.