Fls perfect, 4-6-merous, small, solitary or cymose in the axils; pet widely spreading; stamens very short, inserted at the margin of the broad disk, in which the 3-5-locular ovary is largely immersed; ovules 2-6 per locule, ±ascending; stigma sessile, 3-5-lobed; fr colored, capsular, often 3-5-lobed, with 1-6 seeds per locule, each seed covered by a red or orange aril; shrubs or small trees, prostrate to erect, sometimes climbing by adventitious roots; twigs often 4- angled, sometimes winged; lvs opposite, deciduous in our native spp. 200+, cosmop. Several cult. spp. that only occasionally escape are included in the key, but not numbered or described.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.