Herbs, shrubs or
small trees, perennial or annual, monoecious. Leaves alternate, palmatinerved,
petiolate; stipules minute, setaceous.
Inflorescences axillary or terminal spikes panicles, unisexual or
bisexual, when bisexual sexes are
diversely arranged, males in slender dense-flowered spikes, with one or a few
female flowers at base. Male flowers:
minute, with or without bracts; calyx closed in bud, splitting valvately into 2-4
segments; petals and disc absent; stamens many, rarely up to 12; filaments
free; pistillode absent. Female
flowers: 1-4 in each bract; sepals 3-4, imbricate, shortly connate;
ovary (2- ) 3-loculed, each one-ovuled; styles free or basally connate,
conspicuous, laciniate. Fruits capsular,
(2-) 3-locular, with crustaceous cocci, enclosed in accrescent subtending
bracts; seeds smooth to pitted or tuberculate.