or dioecious shrubs or small trees, without
stinging hairs. Leaves alternate, petiolate; stipules deciduous, intrapetiolar, connate, membranous, 2-cleft; leaf
blade thinly papery or papery, often snow white or silvery tomentose abaxially,
margin serrulate, 3-nerved at the base, cystoliths punctiform. Inflorescence axillary,
sessile or dichotomously branched cymes or spikes, unisexual or rarely
bisexual; glomerules solitary or pairs of
dichotomously branched cymes. Flowers densely clustered, bracteate. Male
flowers: (3-) 4 (-5) merous, perianth lobes slightly
connate, valvate, often depressed-globose in bud, stamens (3 or)4(or 5);
filaments inflexed in bud; rudimentary ovary obovoid, woolly at base.
Female flowers: densely crowded on fleshy, swollen receptacle, perianth tube obovoid or jug-shaped, mouth contracted,
very minutely 3- or 4-toothed, in fruit often enlarged, fleshy, and adnate to
ovary, rarely membranous and free; staminodes absent; style short; stigma
penicillate, with tuft of long hairs; ovule orthotropous. Achenes drupaceous, obovoid, slightly compressed, closely
enclosed by often fleshy, adnate perianth. Seeds with copious endosperm; cotyledons small, broad.