Description from Flora of China
Shrubs, trees, rarely scandent, evergreen, usually dioecious or sometimes monoclinous or andromonoecious. Leaves opposite [or whorled], digitately 3-foliolate or 1-foliolate. Inflorescences axillary or basal to leaves, cymulose to thyrsiform [or reduced to solitary flowers]. Sepals 4, connate at base or to nearly their full length. Petals 4, valvate or narrowly imbricate in bud. Stamens 4 or 8 [or 4-8], rudimentary in female flowers. Disk pulvinate to annular to cup-shaped. Gynoecium 4-carpelled, rudimentary or lacking in male flowers; ovaries connate at base, otherwise contiguous [or connate up to their full length]; ovules [1 or] 2 per locule; style apical or subapical, of 4 contiguous, coherent, or connate stylar elements; stigma usually punctiform, capitellate, or capitate. Fruit of 1-4 basally connate follicles [or grading to a syncarpous 4-loculed loculicidal capsule]; exocarp dry to fleshy; endocarp cartilaginous. Seeds remaining attached in dehisced fruit; seed coat with thick inner layer of dense black sclerenchyma and spongy outer layer bounded externally by a shiny black pellicle; endosperm copious; embryo straight or slightly curved; cotyledons elliptic, flattened; hypocotyl superior.
As discussed by Hartley (Allertonia 8: 19, f. 5. 2001), two types of attachment of mature seed are seen in dehisced fruit of Melicope. In Type A, the attachment is by a partially detached axile strip of pericarp tissue or by a partially detached raphe, or by both. In Type B, neither the axile pericarp tissue nor the raphe is detached, and the seed is connected to the axile placental region by a funiculus, which is simply the funiculus of the ovule enlarged.
About 233 species: E, S, and SE Asia, Australia, Indian Ocean islands (Mascarenes), Madagascar, Pacific islands; eight species (two endemic) in China.
(Authors: Zhang Dianxiang (张奠湘); Thomas G. Hartley)