Description from Flora of China
Trees or shrubs, dioecious or polygamo-monoecious. Leaves alternate, simple, estipulate. Flowers 5-merous, ± regular, subtended by 1-5 bracts; male ones in heads, racemes, or umbels; female and hermaphroditic ones solitary or in 2-12-flowered heads. Calyx tube adnate to ovary in bisexual or female flowers; lobes small or obsolete. Petals usually 5-10 (or absent). Stamens in male flowers usually 10 or more in 2 ± distinct whorls around a nectariferous disk. Ovary inferior, 1-8-loculed, with 1 pendulous, apotropous ovule per locule. Fruit a drupe; each locule of stone opening at apical part by a ± triangular abaxial valve at germination. Seeds 1-5; embryo straight; endosperm copious.
Recent studies suggest that this family can alternatively be treated as part of the Cornaceae (Xiang et al., Amer. J. Bot. 85: 285-297. 1998).
Fang Wen-pei. 1983. Nyssaceae. In: Fang Wen-pei & Chang Che-yung, eds., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 52(2): 144-159.
Five genera and about 30 species: mostly in temperate regions of E Asia and E North America; three genera (two endemic) and ten species (eight endemic) in China.
(Authors: Qin Haining (覃海宁); Chamlong Phengklai)