Description from Flora of China
Trees or shrubs, dioecious, young parts usually lepidote or stellately pubescent. Leaves alternate to subopposite, odd-pinnate, 3-foliolate, or rarely simple; leaflet blade margins entire. Flowers in axillary thyrses, small, usually globose. Calyx slightly or deeply 3-5-lobed. Petals 3-5, short, concave, quincuncial or imbricate in bud, distinct or rarely basally connate and adnate to staminal tube. Stamens as many as or more than petals; staminal tube usually subglobose, obovoid, or cup-shaped with apex incurved, apical margin entire, crenate, or shallowly lobed; anthers 5 or 6(-12), included, slightly exserted, or rarely semiexserted. Disk absent. Ovary 1-3(or 4)-locular, with 1 or 2 ovules per locule; style short or absent; stigma ovoid or shortly cylindric. Fruit with fibrous pericarp, indehiscent with 1 or 2 locules or loculicidally dehiscent with 3 locules; locules without seeds or each containing 1 seed; pericarp often containing latex. Seeds usually surrounded by a colloidal and fleshy aril; endosperm absent.
Aglaia is the only source of the group of about 50 known representatives of compounds that bear a unique cyclopenta[b]tetrahydrobenzofuran skeleton. These compounds are more commonly called rocaglate or rocaglamide derivatives, or flavaglines, and have been found to have anticancer and pesticidal properties. Since the first representative in this group was only discovered in 1982, this is one of the few recent examples of a completely new class of plant secondary metabolites of biological promise (see B. G. Wang et al., Biochem. Syst. Ecol. 32: 1223-1226. 2004; L. W. Chaidir et al., J. Nat. Prod. 64: 1216-1220. 2001).
About 120 species: tropical and subtropical Asia, tropical Australia, Pacific islands; eight species in China.
(Authors: Peng Hua (彭华); Caroline M. Pannell)