Shrubs or small trees, occasionally suffrutices. Leaves opposite, rarely ternate, sessile or petiolate; with some bacterial nodules usually at branching of veins; stipuleswith a triangular to truncate limb, connate at base or up to entire length, bearing a subulate arista, or less often a short mucro, sometimes with silky hairs within. Flowers usually clustered in corymbs, umbels or heads, rarely in panicles, very rarely solitary. Calyx 4(5)-toothed or 4(5)-lobed, sometimes nearly truncate, rarely accrescent; tube usually saucer-shaped. Corolla 4(5)-lobed, white, glabrous; lobes somewhat variable in shape, shorter than tube; tube cylindrical to funnel-shaped, throat bearded or pubescent to glabrous. Stamens 4(5), arising in corolla mouth, exserted; filaments shorter than anthers; anthers linear to oblong, acuminate or apiculate, usually sagittate. Disc annular, fleshy. Ovary 2-locular, with a solitary pendulous ovule (rarely 2) in each locule; style slender, exserted, twice as long as corolla, apical part thickened to club-shaped, shortly hairy, acting as pollen presenter, stigmatic surface confined to bidentate apex. Fruit a spherical, slightly 2-lobed drupe, with 1(2) chartaceous pyrenes. Seeds semiglobose. x = 11 (high polyploidy).
Species 400, Old World tropics; 21 in sthn Afr., widespread, absent from S Namibia, Northern and Western Cape.