Shrubs or small trees, deciduous or evergreen. Leaves opposite, simple, entire; stipules present (not in Victoria) or absent. Inflorescences terminal compound cymes, many-flowered; bracts scale-like. Flowers small, pedicellate; sepals 5, scarcely connate basally, persistent; corolla rotate or campanulate, actinomorphic, 5-lobed, papillose; stamens 5, filaments inserted below throat of corolla-tube; ovary 1-(rarely 2-)celled, ovule usually 1 per cell, style very short, 3-lobed. Fruit a drupe with a 1-seeded compressed stone.
About 210 species, mostly Northern Hemisphere and mainly in North America and Asia; 2 species naturalised in Australia.