Description from Flora of China
Trees or shrubs, evergreen. Bark usually gray and smooth or sometimes coarsely deeply furrowed. Twigs with annular stipular scar. Stipules membranous, free or adnate to petiole and leaving a stipular scar on petiole. Leaves spirally arranged, folded in bud, erect when young; leaf blade thickly papery or leathery, margin entire. Flowers terminal on terminal brachyblasts, solitary, bisexual, large, usually fragrant. Tepals 9-12, in 3 or 4 whorls, subequal. Stamens caducous; filaments flat; connective elongated, forming a short or long tip; anthers dehiscing introrsely. Gynoecium linked to androecium, without a gynophore. Carpels few to many, distinct; styles curved outward; ovules 2 per carpel or rarely in basal carpels 3 or 4; stigmas papillate, located in adaxial side of carpel. Fruit usually ovoid; mature carpels distinct, leathery or woody, dehiscing along dorsal sutures, apex long or shortly beaked. Seeds 1 or 2 per carpel; testa orangish red or bright red, fleshy, oily; endotesta rigid, hilum connected to placentation by filiform funiculus.
About 20 species: Central America, E and S North America, including Mexico and Antilles; one species (introduced) in China.