Woody vines [shrubs, trees], tendrils absent, unarmed; bud scales present. Stems twining, glabrous [hairy]. Leaves deciduous [persistent], alternate; blade not gland-dotted; pinnately veined, secondary, and usually tertiary, veins strongly parallel. Inflorescences axillary or terminal, paniclelike thyrses [corymblike cymes or fascicles]; peduncles and pedicels not fleshy in fruit. Pedicels present. Flowers functionally unisexual (plants functionally dioecious) [bisexual]; hypanthium patelliform, cupulate, or hemispheric, 2–3 mm wide; sepals 5, staminate spreading, pistillate erect, greenish, triangular [rarely linear or narrowly lanceolate], keeled adaxially; petals 5, cream or yellowish to greenish white, flat, spatulate to lanceolate, short-clawed; nectary fleshy, 10-lobed, filling hypanthium; stamens 5; ovary superior, 2-locular; style 1. Fruits drupes; stone 1, indehiscent.
c, e United States, Mexico (Chiapas), Central America (Guatemala), Asia, Africa, tropical to warm temperate regions.
Species ca. 12 (1 in the flora).
Berchemia scandens is the only New World species in the genus. The disjunction of B. scandens from the southeastern United States to Chiapas and Guatemala is remarkable but there seem to be no morphological differences.