A family of shrubs, climbers, and small trees that have simple, alternate, often pubescent leaves without stipules. The inflorescence is a cyme or cluster, with a stalk. The flowers are regular or irregular, bisexual or unisexual, and monoecious. There are 5 overlapping sepals and 4 or 5 bilobed or forked petals which are often black. The 5 stamens are united to the petals, or free. The ovary is superior, with 2 or 3 biovular carpels, each with 2 styles. The fruit is a drupe, usually lobed and pubescent, with up to 3 locules, each with a single seed. The seeds contain no endosperm. There are 3 genera, with about 180 species, found throughout tropical regions. Some species are cultivated as ornamentals. Many are very poisonous, and are used locally to poison game or vermin.
Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry.