Trees or shrubs, deciduous or evergreen; most parts with distinctive silvery or brownish peltate scales and/or stellate hairs, sometimes branches spine-tipped. Leaves alternate, opposite, or whorled; stipules absent; petiole usually present, sometimes short; leaf blade often leathery, simple, margin entire or subentire, abaxially densely stellate-hairy or peltate-scaly, pinnately veined. Flowers solitary or in clusters or short racemes, actinomorphic, bisexual, or unisexual (plants dioecious). Calyx in bisexual and female flowers tubular, 2-6(-8)-lobed, male flowers of Hippophaë of 2 membranous sepals. Petals absent. Stamens 4-8, free, adnate to calyx tube, in male flowers 2 × as many as the lobes, in bisexual flowers as many as the lobes and alternate with them. Ovary superior but tightly enclosed in differentiated basal part of calyx and apparently inferior, 1-loculed; style elongate, stigma lateral. Ovule 1, basal, anatropous. Fruit drupelike, indehiscent, enclosed in base of calyx tube and containing a single seed.