Trees or shrubs, occasionally herbs, with stellate, simple or rarely with leptoid hairs. Leaves stipulate, rarely exstipulate, alternate, simple, usually palmately veined, entire or dentate, rarely palmately lobed. Inflorescence axillary or terminal, rarely leaf-opposed, cymes or panicles, occasionally flowers solitary or umbellate. Flowers bisexual, rarely unisexual (plants then monoecious), mostly 4-5-merous, hypogynous, actinomorphic, bracteate. Sepals 4-5, free or united into a campanulate calyx, valvate, rarely imbricate, caducous, rarely persistent and accrescent. Petals 4-5, rarely absent or sepaloid, free, glandular or eglandular at the base, imbricate, sometimes contorted or valvate. Stamens (8-) 10-many, free or rarely basally somewhat united into a tube or 5- or 10-adelphous, staminodial or absent in female flowers, inserted on the thalamus or androphore; anthers dithecous, dehiscence longitudinal or porose. Carpels mostly 2-5 (-10), rarely more, syncarpous or very rarely free; ovary sessile, superior, rarely semi-inferior to inferior, 2-5 (-10) or more loculed; placentation generally axile; ovules erect or pendulous, anatropous, (1-) 2-numerous in each locule; style simple, stigma simple, capitate or lobed or stigmas as many as carpels. Fruit an armed or unarmed, rarely winged, 2-5 (-10)-loculed, variously dehiscent capsule or indehiscent fleshy drupe or berry. Seeds 1-many, glabrous, rarely pilose, exarillate, endospermous rarely non-endospermous; embryo straight, cotyledons ovate-orbicular, foliaceous.
A family of 50 genera and about 450 species; distributred in tropical and temperate regions, chiefly South East Asia and South America (abundant in Brazil). Four genera and 24 species are reported from Pakistan including 3 cultivated ones.
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture for financing this research under P.L. 480. Our sincere thanks are also due to Mr. B.L. Burtt, Mr. Ian C. Hedge and Miss Jennifer Lamond, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, for their helpful suggestions.