Herbs, scandent, perennial or annual, glabrous. Stems thin, 1-8 m, forming a sympodium of several shoots. Leaf blade ternately or pinnately compound; leaflets once to 3 × compound; apex of leaf transformed into a branched tendril (except in basalmost leaves). Inflorescences terminal (leaf-opposed), corymbose, pendent, 2-14-flowered; bracts linear, entire to fimbriate-dentate. Flowers with 2 planes of symmetry, cordate to oblong, 12-26 × 4-10 mm. Petals pale yellow to orange (often rubescent); apices of outer petals slightly bent outward, base pouchlike. Stamens 2 (i.e., filaments of each triplet completely fused); each stamen with a basal nectary extending into pouch of corresponding outer petal. Style persistent; stigma almost square, upper corners each with 1 small stigmatic papilla, basal corners each with 1 large papilla (small in Dactylicapnos burmanica). Capsule dehiscent with 2 valves with persistent replum (in D. scandens indehiscent and berrylike). Seeds several to many, carunculate.