Erect to almost prostrate shrubs, deciduous. Leaves opposite, simple, entire or sinuate; stipules absent. Flowers in terminal spikes on lateral branches or solitary in axils of upper leaves; bracts and bracteoles present. Sepals 4 or 5, equal, connate, persistent in fruit; corolla campanulate, funnel-shaped or sometimes expanding abruptly, actinomorphic, 4- or 5- lobed, sometimes slightly swollen at base; stamens 4 or 5, epipetalous, included or slightly exserted; ovary 4-celled, 2 cells each with a fertile ovule, the other 2 cells with several sterile ovules, style slender; stigma capitate or slightly 2-lobed. Fruit a berry-like drupe with 2, more or less compressed pyrenes.
16 species mainly from North America with one species endemic to China; 2 species naturalised in Australia.