Dioecious or polygamodioecious shrubs or trees, often spiny. Leaves simple, alternate or opposite, covered with scales or stellate hairs, exstipulate. Flowers in racemes, spikes or fascicles, sometimes bisexual, regular, 2-4-merous. Perianth tubular or campanulate, 2-4(-6) lobed, constricted below. Stamens as many as or twice the number of tepals, perigynous; anthers bilocular, dehiscing longitudinally. Ovary unilocular, with 1 basal ovule. Fruit a false drupe, enclosed by the persistent lower perianth half, the hypanthium.
A family of 3 genera and c. 50 species; N. America, Europe, tropical Asia and Australia. Represented in Pakistan by 2 genera and 4 species.
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture for financing this research under P.L. 480. Thanks are also due to Messrs. B.L. Burtt, I. Hedge, and Miss J. Lamond of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, for their helpful suggestions.