Monoecious or dioecious trees or shrubs, latex absent. Leaves alternate, distichous, evergreen, simple, coriaceous, glabrous; stipules intrapetiolar, paired, or confluent across the leaf axil; margins entire; venation pinnate. Inflorescence axillary and/or terminal, of densely bracteate clusters (reduced cymules), in the axils of ordinary foliage leaves, in nonleafy pseudoterminal aggregates that revert to vegetative growth, or (in neotropical species) in the axils of alternate, reduced, crescentiform stipular bracts of determinate deciduous spiciform axes borne in groups of 1-several per branch apex; axes straight or sinuous; floral bracts minute, deltate, with abaxially pubescent midribs. Staminate flowers sessile or pedicellate, regular; perianth biseriate; sepals 5, free; petals 5, minute, scale-like, obovate or (in neotropical species) clawed with a reniform limb. Disk annular, extrastaminal. Stamens 5, receptacular or elevated on a short androphore; filaments free; anthers basifixed, bilocular; pistillode columnar. Pistillate flowers short-pedicellate, regular; perianth fugaceous; otherwise as in staminate flowers. Disk hypogynous, annular. Ovary 3-locular, globose; ovules 2 per locule; stigmas sessile, entire or lobed. Fruit an explosively dehiscent globose capsule, the bony endocarp twisting and separating from the remainder of the pericarp. Seeds globose to subcylindric; caruncle absent; testa chartaceous to stony; endosperm present; embryo straight, the cotyledons large, oblong, the radicle short, superior.

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Copyright © 1999 Missouri Botanical Garden Press. This article first appeared in Flora of the Venezuelan Guayana.

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