Evergreen (in Australia), more or less glabrous shrubs or small trees. Leaves alternate to opposite, petiolate, penninerved, concolorous; stipules early-deciduous, free. Plants monoecious (usually) or dioecious. Inflorescence of axillary cymes or racemes. Sepals 5, falling before fruit ripens; petals 5, rolled or hooded, or sometimes (in Victoria) 0; disk apparent as a narrow glabrous ring at the summit of the hypanthium, but lining the inner surface of the hypanthium; ovary superior, carpels 2–4 (usually 3), style deeply branched (as many branches as carpels). Fruit a drupe, with 2–4 readily separating mericarps, longitudinally dehiscent on the inner face; seeds arillate, dorsally grooved.
About 120 species, mainly in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, but with representatives in South America, South Africa and Malesia; 1 native and 1 introduced species in Australia.