Mostly climbing shrub with tendrils, seldom erect shrubs or small trees, the nodes often swollen or jointed; leaves alternate, simple or pinnately or palmately compound, pellucid punctuate dots frequently present, the stipules petiolar or none; flowers minute, bisexual or unisexual, actinomorphic, numerous in cymose inflorescence, arising opposite a leaf, the sepals 4-5, distinct or basally connate, the petals or same number as sepals, the corolla early deciduous as a cap, disc evident, annual or lobed; stamens as many as petals and opposite them, somewhat peritynous, arising from base of disc, the anthers distinct or connate, 2-celled, dehiscing longitudinally, pistil 1, ovules 1-2 in each placenta, the style 1 and short, the stigma discoid or capitate; fruit a berry, seeds with straight embryo and copious endosperm.