Growth Form: Herbs, shrubs, or trees, variously pubescent with stellate, simple, and/or glandular hairs.
Leaves: Leaves simple and often palmately lobed to divided, rarely compound (palmate). Leaves alternate, rarely opposite. Blades often palmately lobed to divided, rarely palmately compound, often asymmetrical. Margins usually toothed or lobed. Pinnately or palmately veined. Nearly always petiolate. Stipules present, deciduous or occasionally persistent.
Flowers: Flowers axillary, solitary or in cymes, collectively often forming spicate to paniculate or even head-like inflorescences, +/- with an involucel subtending the calyx, the bracts distinct or basally connate. Flowers bisexual (perfect) or occasionally unisexual (and then plants monoecious), actinomorphic or occasionally irregular, often subtended by an epicalyx. Calyx of (3–)5 sepals; sepals distinct or occasionally connate at base, valvate in bud, ometimes irregularly cleft or truncate, sometimes subtended by an epiCalyx. Corolla of (3–)5(6) petals or rarely petals absent, distinct, imbricate, convolute, or valvate in bud, convolute in bud, actinomorphic to moderately zygomorphic, tubular to rotate or reflexed, often with nectaries consisting of glandular hairs at base. petals adnate at base to staminal column, usually clawed and occasionally also hooded. Stamens appearing in 2 whorls, 5 opposite the sepals usually staminodial and often petaloid, occasionally absent, the other 5 opposite the petals and fertile, or consisting of 5 bundles of 2–3(–10) or more developing from a common vasculature; filaments usually connate into a tube around the ovary or distinct; anthers dithecal, opening by longitudinal slits or rarely by apical pores. Pollen globose, echinate. Ovary superior, (1-)3-celled to many-celled, the carpels borne in a single whorl or rarely seemingly superposed whorls, placentation axile; ovules 1 to numerous per cell, ascending to pendulous; style exceeding the staminal column, unbranched and stigmatically lobed at apex or branched, the branches as many or twice as many as carpels; stigmas terminal or decurrent.
Fruit: Fruit fleshy to leathery or woody; a berry; drupe or loculicidal or septicidal dehiscent capsules; (essentially indehiscent in Thespesia); or a schizocarp separating into mericarps at maturity. Seeds 1 to numerous; ± winged; sometimes with an aril; reniform to turbinate; endosperm oily; copious or absent.
Habitat: Most strongly represented in open; sunny habitats of war temperate and seasonally dry tropical regions.
Name Published In: Gen. Pl. [Jussieu] 271. 1789 [4 Aug 1789] (1789)
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