Description from Flora of China
Shrubs parasitic, monoecious or dioecious. Branches opposite, dichotomous, or verticillate; internodes terete or flattened with successive internodes at right angles to each other. Leaves well developed or reduced to scales. Inflorescences axillary or terminal, 1-7-flowered cymes; peduncle short to nearly absent; bracts in pairs, connate, boatlike, forming a navicular involucre, or 1 or 2 beneath each flower. Pedicel absent. Male flower ovoid or ellipsoid in mature bud; perianth lobes usually 4. Anthers sessile, adnate to perianth lobes, rarely connate into synandrium, rotund or elliptic, multiloculed, dehiscence by numerous pores. Pollen grains subspheric to prolate, trilobate-circular in cross section. Female flower ovoid to ellipsoid in mature bud; perianth lobes (3 or)4, usually deciduous. Placentation basal. Style short or absent; stigma nipple-shaped or cushion-shaped. Berry globose, ovoid, or ellipsoid, exocarp smooth or verrucose, indehiscent, usually dispersed by birds.
About 70 species: temperate and tropical regions of the Old World; 12 species (four endemic) in China.