Shrubs 0-3-2 m tall, deciduous, glabrous, without dark glands; branching lateral. Stems 2-4-lined (subfoliar lines less prominent or absent) and ±ancipitous when young, eventually terete, eglandular; cortex exfoliating in strips; bark smooth, scaling or fissured. Leaves opposite, decussate, sessile to shortly petiolate, free, deciduous at basal articulation; lamina entire, with venation pinnate, partially (or rarely completely ?) closed, the tertiary densely reticulate; laminar glands punctiform, pale; marginal gland dots pale; ventral glands absent. Inflorescence (l-)3-c. 20-flowered, branching dichasial to monochasial from 1-2 nodes, sometimes with subsidiary branches; bracts and bracteoles foliar (persistent) or reduced (deciduous), not sepaline. Flowers stellate, homostylous. Sepals 5, free, persistent or deciduous, with margin entire; veins 5-11; laminar glands pale, linear to punctiform; inframarginal glands pale. Petals 5, deciduous, with apiculus present, subterminal, small, or absent, and margin entire; marginal glands absent; laminar glands ± numerous, pale, linear, distally interrupted. Stamen fascicles 5 , free, deciduous, each with 20-40 stamens; filaments united very shortly; anther gland amber; pollen types III- IV. Ovary with 3 (abnormally 5) incompletely axile placentae (parietal in upper c. 2/3), ∞-ovulate; styles 3 (abnormally 5) , free; stigma subcapitate to narrowly capitate . Capsule 3 (abnormally 5)-valved, coriaceous to chartaceous and completely to partially dehiscent or ± thin-walled, fleshy and tardily dehiscent or indehiscent, narrowly vittate. Seeds cylindric, broadly carinate to partially or completely unilaterally winged, with apical expansions sometimes wing-like; testa linear-reticulate.
BASIC CHROMOSOME NUMBER(x): 10 (9?, 8?); ploidy 4.
Evergreen forest and dry open areas (Sp. 1); damp, shaded places (other species); c. 200-2100 m.
Macaronesia, NW. Africa, W. & S. Europe, W. Mediterranean islands, Crete, S. Aegean islands, Turkey, Transcaucasia, N. Iran, Turkmenistan, Cyprus, Levant south to N. Israel, SW. Saudi Arabia.
4 species (+1 hybrid).