Evergreen trees or shrubs. Leaves alternate, rarely opposite or whorled, simple or sometimes pinnatisect, rarely compound, usually coriaceous, margins entire or toothed; stipules absent. Inflorescence of a solitary flower or flowers paired in simple or compound racemes or spikes, sometimes aggregated into dense heads or spikes. Flowers actinomorphic to zygomorphic, usually bisexual, often subtended by a small bract; perianth usually of 4 petaloid tepals, free, cohering into a tube, or fused and more or less strap-shaped; stamens 4, usually all fertile, filaments partly or wholly adnate to tepals, anthers introrse or rarely latrorse, opening by longitudinal slits; hypogynous glands (nectaries) often present, usually 4, fleshy or scale-like, free and alternating with the tepals or fused into a complete or partial ring; ovary superior, 1-celled, sessile or stipitate, and sometimes displaced to one side; ovules 1–many; style simple, usually long, commonly expanded below or around the small stigma into a specialized pollen presenter; stigma capitate or bilobed. Fruit an indehiscent nut or drupe or a woody or coriaceous follicle; seeds 1–many, often winged in follicular fruit.
About 80 genera with over 1500 species, mainly in the Southern Hemisphere and mostly in tropical and temperate regions, 45 genera and about 900 species in Australia.