Dioecious or monoecious herbs, shrubs or trees, sometimes succulent, spiny or unarmed, sometimes with milky latex. Hairs 0, simple, stellate or stinging. Stipules present or 0. Leaves alternate, rarely opposite or in whorls, usually simple, less often lobed or compound, sometimes simple but appearing compound (Phyllanthus). Glands sometimes present near the apex of the petiole and base of lamina. Inflorescences various, sometimes in cyathia. Flowers unisexual, usually actinomorphic and very small. Calyx usually of 3-6 lobes or free sepals. Corolla with 3-6 free or ± united petals or 0. Disk present or 0. Stamens 3-many. Ovary superior, 1-4(-20)-locular, most commonly 3-locular. Styles (1-)3(-20). Fruit usually splitting into three 2-valved cocci, less often indehiscent. Seeds 1-2 per loculus, with or without a caruncle.