Vines, parasitic, with threadlike stems. Leaves reduced to minute scales, spirally arranged, glabrous or pubescent. Inflorescences spikes [panicles or racemes], rarely reduced to single flower. Flowers bisexual, sessile or shortly pedicellate, subtended by bract and 2 bracteoles; tepals persistent at apex of accrescent floral tube that surrounds fruit, greenish white or whitish, outermost row similar to bracts, innermost row larger; stamens 9 (or 6), anthers 2-locular, anthers of outer 6 stamens introrse, of inner 3 extrorse; staminodes 3 (or 6); ovary globose. Drupe black, globose, enclosed in floral tube, remnants of perianth apical.
Tropical and subtropical regions, North America, mostly Australia, a few in Africa.
Species ca. 17 (1 in the flora).