Trees, shrubs, subshrubs or annual or perennial herbs, often with jointed branches and swollen at the nodes; axillary or stipular thorns sometimes present. Leaves stipulate, opposite or less often alternate, bi-or trifoliolate or pinnately multifoliolate, rarely simple; usually petiolate, rarely with glandular dots, sometimes unequal; leaf(let)lamina entire, often asymmetric, flattened, fleshy or terete. Flowers solitary, paired or in few-flowered cymes, axillary or terminal, bisexual, actinomorphic or rarely slightly zygomorphic; sepals 4–6, ± free, rarely connate at base, usually imbricate, valvate in Seetzenia; petals free, often clawed, mostly as many as sepals, rarely 0; disc often present; stamens (5)8-12 as many as or twice the number of petals and then obdiplostemonous; filaments sometimes with basal scales or appendages; anthers introrse, dorsifixed, 4-sporangiate, with longitudinal dehiscence; ovary syncarpous, superior, sessile or shortly stipitate, angular, ribbed or winged, (2-)4-5(-12)-locular; style filiform or subulate; stigma capitate, clavate or slightly lobed or ridged; ovules 1 to many per locule, bitegmic, pendulous, usually with axile placentation. Fruit a loculicidal or septicidal capsule, or splitting into mericarps which may be winged, lobed or angled, spiny or tuberculate; rarely a 1-seeded drupe (Balanites). Seeds with or without endosperm; embryo straight or slightly curved.