Monoecious or dioecious herbs, shrubs or trees. Leaves often of two types: scale-like cataphylls and foliage leaves. Foliage leaves alternate, often distichous,
stipulate, simple, usually entire. Flowers small, axillary, the males
usually in pairs or in fascicles in the axils
of the lower half of the flowering shoots (which often
resemble pinnate leaves), the females usually solitary in the
upper axils. Male flowers: pedicels often capillary,
sepals (4-)5-6, ± equal, imbricate;
petals 0; disk glands (4-)5-6; stamens 2-6;
pistillode 0. Female flowers: pedicels more robust than in
the male flowers; sepals as for males but often larger; petals 0;
disk flat or cup-shaped, annular and entire or variously toothed,
rarely composed of separate glands; ovary usually 3(-many)-locular; ovules 2 per loculus; styles 3, rarely more. Fruit 3(-many)-locular, dry and dehiscent or fleshy and ± indehiscent. Seeds 2 per loculus, without a fleshy, outer coating.
Worldwide: c.600 species in tropical and warm regions
Caprivi: 3 taxa.
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