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Trees, shrubs or lianas, commonly with resin that causes irritation of skin. Leaves alternate (rarely opposite), usually pinnately compound, sometimes trifoliate or simple, stipule lacking. Inflorescence a complex panicle. Flowers small, regular, perfect or unisexual, hypogynous, perigynous or epigynous. Sepals 5, rarely 3 or 7, connate towards base. Petals 5, rarely 3 or 7, distinct. Stamens 5-10, rarely 1 or many, filaments distinct, rarely connate at base, anthers opening by longitudinal slits, nectary disk present. Pistil compound of 1-5, rarely 12 united carpels, locule 1, rarely 4 or 5, ovule usually 1 per locule, borne on an axile placenta, ovary superior or inferior, styles 1-3, distinct or connate, stigma capitate. Fruit a berry or drupe. Seed 1, embryo curved or straight, endosperm lacking.

Key to the Genus

Serial Key Reference
1a. Leaves imparpinnate 2
1b. Leaves simple 5
2a. Stamens 5; carpels 3 Rhus
2b. Stamens 8-10; carpels usually 5 3
3a. Ovary 1-celled 4
3b. Ovary 4-5-celled Spondias
4a. Climbers; flowers polygamous Pegia
4b. Deciduous trees; flower unisexual Lannea
5a. Petals enlarged in fruits Swintonia
5b. Petals not enlarged in fruits 6
6a. Ovary inferior 7
6b. Ovary superior 8
7a. Styles 3; petals valvate Holigarna
7b. Style 1; petals imbricate Drimycarpus
8a. Leaves opposite Bouea
8b. Leaves alternate 9
9a. Stamens twice the number of petals 10
9b. Stamens as many as petals 11
10a. Drupe on a fleshy hypocarp Anacardium
10b. Drupe on the persistent, not enlarged calyx Buchanania
11a. Only one stamen fertile Mangifera
11b. All stamens fertile 12
12a. Flowers bisexual; petals caducous Gluta
12b. Flowers polygamous 13
13a. Stamens 4; drupe on a fleshy hypocarp Nothopegia
13b. Stamens 5-6; drupe not on a fleshy hypocarp Semecarpus