Description from Flora of China
Aembilla Adanson; Phoberos Loureiro.
Shrubs or small trees, often spinose on trunk and branches. Leaves alternate; stipules small, caducous; usually petiolate; leaf blade leathery, pinnate-veined, sometimes 3-veined from base, with or without a pair of marginal glands at junction of petiole apex and base of blade, margin entire or toothed, each tooth with a small marginal gland. Flowers bisexual (usually), hypogynous, small, arranged in terminal or axillary bracteate racemes, sometimes in axillary fascicles or solitary; pedicels articulate at base. Sepals 4-6, imbricate, slightly united at base; calyx often opening early in bud to reveal closely packed anther tips and slightly exserted style. Petals isomerous with and similar to sepals, alternating with them, free or joined at base only. Disk extrastaminal, composed of a single row of 8-10, orange, short, thick glands, or rarely disk absent. Stamens many, exserted; filaments free, filiform, inserted on receptacle; anthers small, versatile, longitudinally dehiscent, connective sometimes produced beyond thecae into a triangular or oblong (in dried material), glabrous or hairy appendage. Ovary superior, sessile, 1-loculed, with 2-4 placentas, each with few ovules; style 1, entire; stigma capitate, entire, or very shortly 2-4-lobed. Berry fleshy, drying blackish, with persistent perianth and stamens at base, and long slender persistent style conspicuous at apex. Seeds (1 or)2 or 3(-20).
In Chinese species: leaf not conspicuously 3-veined from base, basal 1 or 2 pairs of lateral veins high ascending but weaker than midvein, both surfaces of leaf blade glabrous; stamens glabrous, anther connectives produced beyond thecae; disk glands present; receptacle hairy; ovary, style, and fruit glabrous; seeds 1-6.
Herbarium material of Scolopia can be difficult to identify to species; a study of fresh flowers and fruit might provide characters to improve the following key.
About 40 species: tropical and subtropical regions of the E hemisphere; four species in China.