Description: Shrubs or small trees, dioecious or rarely monoecious; with simple hairs, usually armed with prickles on the stems and/or leaves.
Leaves alternate, imparipinnate or paripinnate; leaflets with margins entire or toothed; lateral leaflets opposite.
Inflorescences axillary or terminal, [racemose, cymose or] paniculate. Flowers usually unisexual, 3–5-merous. Sepals 4, basally fused. Petals 4, [valvate or] imbricate, free, not persistent in fruit. Male flowers with 4, free, erect to divergent stamens, opposite the sepals. Female flowers with 1[–5], ± free carpels that lack a sterile apex; styles free [or fused towards the apices], arising ± terminally from carpels; stigma capitate; ovules 2 in each carpel.
Fruit of 1[–5] cocci; cocci not transversely ridged, rounded; seeds held in dehiscing cocci by persistent funiculus, very shiny, black.
Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 200 species, mainly pantropics. Australia: 5 species (endemic), Qld, N.S.W., N.T.
Text by P. G. Richards