Description: Shrubs or small trees, rarely herbs, evergreen or deciduous.
Leaves opposite, simple, margins entire or lobed; often without stipules.
Inflorescences terminal, paniculate or umbel-like cymes, the outer flowers sterile and with enlarged petals in several species. Flowers actinomorphic and zygomorphic, bisexual, mostly 5-merous. Calyx 5-toothed. Corolla usually rotate or campanulate. Stamens 5. Ovary inferior, usually 1-locular; ovules 1 or more; style very short, 3-lobed.
Fruit a drupe, 1-seeded.
Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 120 species, North & Central America, northern Africa, Europe to eastern Asia. Australia: 2 species (naturalized), N.S.W., S.A.
Text by G. J. Harden