Shrubs, usually much-branched, epiphytic and parasitic on the branches of trees and shrubs or rarely (Atkinsonia) terrestrial and a root parasite. Branches usually brittle, often swollen at the nodes. Leaves opposite or rarely alternate, usually thick and leathery; stipules absent. Flowers regular, bisexual. Perianth segments usually 4–6, free or connate, valvate, petaloid, with a small fringe (the calyculus) below the perianth. Stamens as many as the perianth segments, opposite and adnate to them, epigynous. Ovary inferior, 1-locular. Fruit a 1-seeded berry; the inner layer of the floral tube forming a sticky pulp 65 gen., temp. to trop.