Description from Flora of China
Shrubs, rarely small trees, erect, decumbent, or prostrate, deciduous, semievergreen, or evergreen. Branchlets mostly terete, rarely slightly angulate, unarmed. Winter buds small; scales several, imbricate, exposed. Leaves alternate, simple, shortly petiolate; stipules caducous, usually subulate, small; margin of leaf blade entire, venation camptodromous. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, cymose or corymbose, sometimes flowers several fascicled or solitary. Hypanthium turbinate or campanulate, rarely cylindric, adnate to ovary. Sepals 5, persistent, short. Petals 5, erect or spreading, imbricate in bud, white, pink, or red. Stamens 10–20(–22), inserted in mouth of hypanthium. Ovary inferior or semi-inferior, 2–5-loculed; carpels 2–5, connate abaxially, free adaxially; ovules 2 per carpel, erect; styles 2–5, free; stigmas dilated. Fruit a drupe-like pome, red, brownish red, or orange to black, with persistent, incurved, fleshy sepals, containing pyrenes; pyrenes (1 or)2–5, bony, 1-seeded; seeds compressed; cotyledons plano-convex.
The shrubs are widely planted as ornamentals for their attractive fruits and flowers, and as borders, hedges, and ground cover. Further studies are necessary to clarify a taxonomy complicated by hybridization and apomixis.
About 90 species in the broad sense: widespread in temperate N Africa, Asia (except Japan), Central America (Mexico), and Europe, most abundant in SW China; 59 species (37 endemic) in China.
(Authors: Lu Lingdi (Lu Ling-ti); Anthony R. Brach)