Shrubs with a thin tough bark. Leaves alternate or opposite, simple, entire; stipules absent. Flowers regular, bisexual or unisexual. Floral tube cylindrical or campanulate. Sepals 4, imbricate. Petals absent or rudimentary. Stamens 2–8, perigynous. Ovary superior, with a solitary pendulous ovule. Fruit a 1-seeded capsule or berry. 46 gen., mostly warm temp.