Perennial herbs or tall climbers, sometimes succulent, often articulate at the nodes. Leaves alternate, opposite or whorled; stipules absent or minute. Flowers bisexual or unisexual, regular, usually closely packed in a spike. Perianth absent. Stamens 2-10, hypogynous. Ovary superior, 1-locular, with 1 basal ovule; stigma sessile. Fruit a small drupe. 8 gen., mostly trop.