The family consist of 7 genera with about 40 known species of woody plants. All are lianas, save Decaisnea, which are pachycaul shrubs. The leaves are alternate, and compound (usually palmate), with pulvinate leaflets. The flowers are often in drooping racemes.
They are found in eastern Asia, from the Himalayas to Japan, with the exception of the genera Lardizabala and Boquila, both native to southern South America (Chile, and Boquila also in adjacent western Argentina).Selected genera Akebia Decne. (incl. Archakebia C.Y.Wu, T.C.Chen & H.N.Qin) Boquila Decne. Decaisnea Hook.f. & Thomson Lardizabala Ruiz & Pav. Sargentodoxa Rehder & E.H.Wilson (formerly placed in its own family Sargentodoxaceae) Sinofranchetia Hemsl. Stauntonia DC. (incl. Holboellia Wall. and Parvatia)