Trees, shrubs, rarely herbs, sometimes climbers, often polygamous. Bark or pith with resin or gum canals. Leaves simple or compound, alternate, rarely opposite, petiolate, stipulate or not; stipules adnate, rarely free. Inflorescence mostly umbellate, arranged in racemes or panicles, rarely solitary. Pedicels continuous with the base of calyx or jointed. Calyx usually forming a tube, adnate to the ovary. Petals (3-) 5 or more, deciduous or caducous. Stamens free, as many as the petals, inserted around a disc. Ovary inferior, 1-many-locular; styles as many as the locules, free, united, or partly united at the base. Ovule one in each locule. Fruit a drupe or a berry.
The family shows affinities with the Umbelliferae, from which it differs in the presence of usually more than 2 carpels, united styles in some genera, and the fruit being an indehiscent drupe or a berry.
The family has about 84 genera and nearly 920 species distributed mostly in the tropical and sub-tropical regions. Represented in Pakistan by 3 genera, each having a single species.
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture for financing this research under P.L. 480 and to Messrs. B.L. Burtt, I. C. Hedge and Miss J. Lamond of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, for going through the manuscript and giving valuable suggestions.