Herbaceous or shrubby climbers, rarely erect trees, with axillary tendrils. Leaves simple, or compound, stipulate, alternate, incised or entire, petiolate. Inflorescence axillary, dichasial or monochasial cyme, with terminal or first flower modified into tendril, or flowers solitary. Flowers bisexual or unisexual, actinomorphic; bracteate, or ebracteate; hypanthium variously shaped, often hollow and usually with a central androphore or gynophore, hypogynous or perigynous. Sepals (3-) 5, free or basally connate, persistent, imbricate. Petals (3-) 5 or absent, free or basally united, imbricate. Corona uni- or multi-seriate, concave to cup shaped, petaloid or staminodial in appearance, fleshy, rarely absent. Stamens 3-5, rarely numerous, antipetalous, free or slightly united at the base; anthers oblong, basifixed or versatile, dithecous, dehiscing longitudinally. Carpels 3 (-5), syncarpous; ovary unilocular, placentation parietal, ovules anatropous; styles 3-5, free or united, stigmas 3(-5), capitate, discoid, reniform or club-shaped. Fruit unilocular, loculicidally dehiscent capsule, rarely an indehiscent berry. Seeds ovoid or flattened, enclosed within a membranous or pulpy aril, endosperm fleshy.
A family of 12 genera and about 600 species; distributed in tropical and warm temperate regions especially of the New World. Represented in Pakistan by one genus and 4 species.
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture for financing this research under P.L.480.