Perennial shrubs, often spiny and pubescent. Leaves alternate and spirally arranged or clustered, simple, fleshy, more or less sessile; stipules small, often caducous. Inflorescences terminal, of loose branched dichasial cymes. Flowers bisexual or often functionally unisexual, shortly pedicellate; sepals 5, connate at base, persistent in fruit; petals 5, hooded, induplicate-valvate, yellow (not in Victoria) or white; stamens 10–15, 5 opposite sepals, 1 or 2 whorls of 5 opposite petals, lacking appendages, anthers more or less basifixed; ovary 3-celled, free, sessile, ovules 1 per cell, pendulous, style short and thick, stigma 3-partite. Fruit an ovoid drupe with a fleshy exocarp and a pitted and furrowed bony endocarp; seed 1 by abortion, without endosperm.
About 9 species from the western Sahara to central Asia; 1 species in Australia.