Trees or shrubs, rarely climbers. Leaves simple, alternate, or sub-opposite, coriacious, 3-8 nerved, generally stipulate, evergreen or deciduous, sometimes modified into spines. Inflorescence axillary cymes, corymbs, racemes, spikes, or panicles or fasciculate; flowers hermaphrodite, rarely unisexual, actinomorphic, small, perigynous. Calyx tubular, 5-rarely4-or 6-lobed. Petals 5, rarely 4 or 6, sometimes absent, usually clawed and cucullate. Stamens as many as petals, inserted opposite to the petals, often enclosed within their folds. Disc fleshy, intra-staminal, filling and covering the hypanthium, glabrous, rarely tomentose, ovary superior to inferior, (1-) 2-3 (-4) locular, ovule 1 in each locule, style 2-4 fid. Fruit often drupaceous, pyrenes 1-3 (-4), 1-2 seeded, or capsule, rarely samaroid. Seed with a large erect embryo, endosperm copious or scanty.
A family of about 58 genera and nearly 900 species, cosmopolitan in distribution but mainly in tropics and subtropics. Represented in Pakistan by 6 genera and c. 21 species.
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture for financing this research under PL-480. Thanks are also due to Mr. I.C. Hedge of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, for going through the manuscript.