Shrubs or trees, tardily deciduous to evergreen. Leaves alternate (2-ranked), simple; stipules present; petiole present, short; blade often coriaceous, margins entire or remotely toothed; venation pinnate. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, thyrses [cymes, racemes, or panicles]. Flowers bisexual; perianth and androecium perigynous; hypanthium free, well developed, densely hairy on both surfaces; sepals 5, distinct; petals [0 or 4–]5, distinct; nectary present, lining hypanthium; stamens [2–]14–22[–300], connate basally to proximally [distinct], free; anthers versatile, dehiscing by longitudinal slits; pistil 1, 3-carpellate with 1 [rarely 2–3] carpel developing, ovary superior, 1[–3]-locular, placentation basal; ovules 2 per locule, anatropous; style 1, basal; stigmas  3. Fruits drupes. Seeds 1 per fruit.
se United States, Mexico, West Indies, Central America, South America, s Asia, Africa, Pacific Islands, Australia.
Genera 18, species ca. 530 (2 genera, 2 species in the flora).
Chrysobalanaceae was traditionally considered a subfamily of the Rosaceae. Family status is supported by morphology (G. T. Prance 1972; Prance and C. A. Sothers 2003) and molecular data, which place it as a member of the Malpighiales and thus not closely related to the Rosaceae (see, for example, M. W. Chase et al. 1993; N. Korotkova et al. 2009; K. Wurdack and C. C. Davis 2009). Only Chrysobalanus icaco is important commercially; it is planted as an ornamental and its fruits are eaten raw or bottled in syrup and sold (A. Cronquist 1981).
|1||Shrubs or trees, 1–5 m; leaf blades broadly elliptic, broadly ovate, or broadly obovate, length 1.2–1.5 times width; stamen filaments densely hairy proximally; endocarps longitudinally ribbed.||Chrysobalanus|
|1||Shrubs, to 0.3(–0.5) m; leaf blades oblanceolate, lanceolate, or narrowly oblong, length 2.5–3.5 times width; stamen filaments glabrous; endocarps not longitudinally ribbed.||Licania|