Description from Flora of China
Shrubs scandent or erect, rarely small trees, unarmed or spinescent. Branchlets alternate or subopposite, often terminating in a woody spine. Leaves alternate or subopposite; stipules small, caducous; leaf blade papery to leathery, pinnately veined, margin serrate, rarely entire. Flowers mostly very small, 1-2 mm in diam., bisexual, 5-merous, usually sessile or subsessile, rarely pedicellate, in spikes or spicate panicles, rarely in racemes. Calyx tube shallowly cup-shaped to hemispherical; sepals triangular, ± fleshy, adaxially medially keeled and hooded. Petals spatulate, apex 2-lobed to ± deeply emarginate. Stamens equaling petals or slightly longer; anthers dorsifixed. Disk cup-shaped, thick, fleshy, outer margin free from calyx tube, ± distinctly erect, entire or 5-lobed. Ovary superior, 2- or 3-loculed, with 1 ovule per locule; style short, stout, undivided, apically ± distinctly 2- or 3-lobed. Drupe obovoid-globose, with 2 or 3 one-seeded stones, base with remnants of persistent calyx tube. Seeds compressed, slightly asymmetrical, concave at both ends.
Sageretia gongshanensis G. S. Fan & L. L. Deng (Sida 17: 677. 1997) and S. latifolia Handel-Mazzetti (Symb. Sin. 7: 673. 1933), both described from Yunnan, and S. yunlongensis G. S. Fan & L. L. Deng (Sida 16: 477. 1995), described from Xizang and Yunnan, could not be treated here because no material was seen by the authors.
The fruit of some species is edible. The leaves are used as a substitute for tea. Several species are very popular in Bonsai gardening.
About 35 species: mainly in SE Asia, a few species in Africa and North America; 19 species (15 endemic) in China.