Monoecious annual, biennial or perennial herbs, shrubs or trees, sometimes succulent. Milky latex present. Stipules usually present. Leaves mostly alternate, sometimes opposite or whorled. Inflorescence composed of cyathia in simple, dichotomous or umbellate terminal cymes; bracts paired, often leaf-like, sometimes brightly coloured. Cyathia with (1-)4-5(-8) glands around the rim alternating with 5 fringed lobes. Male flowers in 5 groups separated by fringed membranes, bracteolate. Female flower subsessile or with the pedicel elongating or reflexed in fruit. Ovary 3-locular. Styles 3, partly united. Fruit a dehiscent capsule, usually 3-lobed.