Description from Flora of China
Shrubs or trees, evergreen (Symplocos paniculata deciduous). Leaves spirally or distichously arranged, simple; stipules absent; leaf blade margin entire, dentate, or glandular dentate, midvein adaxially impressed or rarely flat or prominent. Inflorescences in spikes, racemes, panicles, or glomerules, rarely flowers solitary. Flowers actinomorphic, bisexual, rarely unisexual, supported by 1 bract and 2 bractlets, rarely bractless or with several bracts in leaf axil. Ovary inferior to half inferior, 2--5-locular but unless stated otherwise in descriptions 3-locular, with 2--4 ovules per locule. Calyx lobes (3--)5, persistent, valvate or imbricate. Corolla white (not repeated in descriptions) or yellow, gamopetalous but divided nearly to base (or to middle in S. pendula); lobes (3--)5(--11), imbricate. Stamens many, rarely 4 or 5, adnate to base of corolla tube, monadelphous in subgenus Symplocos, monadelphous to pentadelphous in subgenus Hopea; filaments distinct or in fascicles; anthers subglobose, 2-locular. Ovary usually with an apical 5-glandular, annular, cylindrical, or 5-lobed disc. Style 1, filiform; stigma small, capitate or 2--5-lobed. Fruit a drupe. Seeds with copious endosperm; embryo straight or curved; cotyledons very short.
One genus and ca. 200 species: widely distributed in tropics and subtropics of Asia, Australia, and America; 42 species (18 endemic) in China.
Wu Rong-fen (as Wu Young-fen) in Wu Young-fen & Hwang Shu-mei, eds. 1987. Symplocaceae. Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 60(2): 1-77.
(Authors: Wu Rong-fen; Hans P. Nooteboom)