Shrubs, small trees, scramblers, or rarely large perennial herbs. Stems unarmed or with rows of prickles; tendrils absent. Leaves 1-4-pinnate to 3-foliolate or simple; stipules sheathing petiole margins with conspicuous, persistent or caducous stipular wings; leaflets glabrous to pubescent with simple hairs, crenate to serrate to dentate at margin, teeth with small glandular apex, lower surface usually with specialized multicellular, stellate or globular caducous "pearl" glands. Inflorescences paniculate, often corymbiform, terminal or axillary, erect or pendulous. Flowers hermaphroditic, (4 or)5-merous. Calyx campanulate with triangular lobes and glandular tips. Petals valvate, apically often cucullate, reflexed at anthesis, basally connate, adnate to staminodial tissue and lower portion of floral disk; floral disk tubular, intrastaminal. Stamens 4 or 5, antepetalous, alternating with lobes of floral disk; anthers tetrasporangiate and 2-locular, introrse and sometimes appearing extrorse. Ovary superior but sometimes partly sunken in disk, 2-3(-5)-carpellate but with a secondary septum in each carpel and 4-6(-10)-locular; ovule 1 per locule, anatropous, bitegmic and crassinucellate; style elongate; stigma discoid and capitate. Fruit a berry, rather dry, depressed subglobose, purple, black, or orange. Seeds endotestal; endosperm ruminate with roughly 5 ingrowths; embryo linear. 2n = 24 or 48 (rarely 20, 22, or 28).
One genus and ca. 34 species; widespread in tropical and subtropical Asia, extending into the Himalayan region and Australia, two species in Africa and Madagascar; ten species (two endemic) in China.
Li Chaoluan. 1998. Leea. In: Li Chaoluan, ed., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 48(2): 3-12.