Shortly rhizomatous vines, creepers or shrubs. Stems sometimes prickly. Leaves alternate, distichous or verticillate, petiolate, with 3–5 prominent longitudinal nerves and reticulate secondary venation. Inflorescence an axillary raceme or spike with numerous flowers. Flowers bisexual, subtending bracts minute; sepals and petals similar; stamens 6, filaments filiform, free, anthers basifixed, dehiscing laterally by slits; ovary superior; style elongate, stout, stigma capitate. Fruit a berry; seeds solitary or few, sub-globose, cream to brown.
6 species, commonly associated with temperate and subtropical rainforests; 5 species occurring in Australia (the other endemic in New Zealand), 1 in Victoria.
The stems of the New Zealand species were used by the Maoris for wickerwork.