Shrubs or small trees, sometimes woody-based herbaceous perennials, monoecious or dioecious, usually +/- pubescent, stinging hairs absent; cystoliths dot-like. Leaves opposite, petiolate, lamina triplinerved, equal- or unequal-sided, dentate, sometimes lobed; stipules lateral, free or +/- connate. Inflorescences axillary, usually spike-like, with flowers gathered in unisexual glomerules along inflorescence axis (rarely sessile and globular); bracts small, deciduous. Male flowers (3)4(5)-merous with membranaceous tepals; rudimentary ovary present or absent. Female flowers with tubular perianth, constricted and 2-4-toothed at apex, completely enclosing ovary; style filiform, not articulated, with one-sided filiform stigma. Achene completely enclosed in and partly adnate to persistent perianth.
Species +/- 50, pantropical and in warm temperate regions; Africa, including sthn trop. Afr. 1: Boehmeria macrophylla Hornem., Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique.