Trees, shrubs, climbers [or rarely herbs]. Leaves simple, alternate, rarely opposite or whorled, without stipules, often glandular. Inflorescences terminal, axillary, or at apices of lateral branches, racemose (often paniculate), corymbose, cymose, umbellate, or fascicled on scaly spur branches in leaf axils. Flowers bisexual or polygamous, rarely unisexual and plants polygamodioecious or dioecious, 4- or 5(or 6)-merous, actinomorphic. Sepals basally connate or free, persistent, usually glandular. Petals basally connate or rarely free, usually glandular. Stamens as many as and opposite to petals, usually adnate to base or throat of corolla tube, sometimes free, rarely united into a tube; anthers 2-celled, dorsifixed, dehiscing longitudinally or by apical slits or pores, rarely transversely septate; filaments present or absent. Ovary superior, rarely inferior to half-inferior, 1-celled; placentation free-central, sometimes basal; ovules 1 to several in 11 to many rows, usually embedded in placenta, anatropous or semicampylotropous. Style 1; stigma simple or lobed. Fruit drupes with fleshy exocarp or capsules. Seeds 1 to many; endosperm fleshy or horny; embryo x = 10-13, 23.
About 42 genera and more than 2,200 species: primarily in tropical and subtropical or warm temperate regions of both hemispheres; five genera and 120 species (51 endemic) in China.
Chinese genera of economic value include Ardisia (medicine, oil, edible, wild vegetables), Maesa (edible, tea, dye), Aegiceras (tannin, fine fuel), Embelia (vermifuge, edible), Myrsine (medicine, fine wood, tannin, fuel).
Chen Chieh. 1979. Myrsinaceae. Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 58: 1-147.