Climbing shrubs, usually dioecious; branches usually conspicuously lenticellate. Leaves alternate, mostly serrate; stipules small, caducous. Inflorescence axillary or terminal, paniculate or racemose. Flowers unisexual; sepals and petals 5; stamens 5, inserted on or immediately below margin of disc, anthers dorsifixed, versatile, dehiscing laterally or extrorsely; female flowers with staminodes; ovary 3-celled, more or less free, ovules 2 per cell, basally attached, style short, stigma more or less 3-lobed. Fruit subglobose, a 3-valved, 3-celled capsule crowned by persistent style; seeds 1–6, enveloped by colourful, fleshy aril.
About 32 species, mostly in tropical and subtropical regions; 2 species in Australia.