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Trees, or shrubs, rarely climbers. Leaves pinnate, trifoliate, or simple; spirally arranged, opposite or pseudo-whorled; rarely pseud-stipules present; leaflets alternate or opposite or subopposite. Inflorescence axillary, terminal or ramiflorus, paniculate racemes. Flowers unisexual or bisexual. Sepals 4 or 5, rarely more, free to connate, imbricate or valvate. Petals usually 4-5, free. Disc lobed or annular. Stamens 5-10 (-70) but usually 8, anthers basifixed or versatile, staminodes present in female flowers.  Ovary superior, 1-3 (-8) celled, lobed; styles filiform; stigmas entire or 1-3 lobed; ovules 1 or 2 per cell; rudimentary ovary present in male flowers. Fruits capsular or drupe, consisting of 1-3 samaras but usually one developed. Seeds globose to obovoid, with or without aril.

Key to the Genus

Serial Key Reference
1a. Climbers; leaves biternate; inflorescences with basal tendrils Cardiospermum
1b. Trees or shrubs; leaves simple or (bi)pinnate; inflorescences without basal tendrils 2
2a. Scale hairs present; young parts viscid 3
2b. Scale hairs abesent; young parts not viscid 4
3a. Leaves paripinnate; ovules 1 or 2 per locule Schleichera
3b. Leaves simple; ovules 2 per locule Dodonaea
4a. Leaves paripinnate, rarely unifoliolate; flowers actinomorphic, usually 5-merous or without petals 5
4b. Leaves digitate, 1-5-foliolate; flowers zygomorphic, 4-merous Allophylus
5a. Lower side of leaflets with naked glands 6
5b. Lower side of leaflets without naked glands 7
6a. Leaves 1- 2-jugate; hairs in stellate tufts; petals absent or present Dimocarpus
6b. Leaves 1-7-jugate; hairs solitary and simple; petals present Xerospermum
7a. Hairs often in stellate tufts, mixed with solitary simple hairs Harpullia
7b. Hairs solitary, simple, exceptionally two-branched 8
8a. Sepals free, imbricate, outer (1 or) 2 distinctly smaller than the inner three Lepisanthes
8b. Sepals free or up to almost completely connate, valvate, usually all equal 9
9a. Petals usually absent, rarely up to 3 10
9b. Petals present, usually 5, sometimes reduced Xerospermum
10a. Ovary warty, 1- or 2-, exceptionally 3-celled, usually lobed Litchi
10b. Ovary smooth, 3-celled, not lobed Mischocarpus