Perennial herbs [shrubs], glabrous or hairy. Stems simple or branched, [± fleshy], ± scaly proximal to leaves proper; scales ± clasping, ± membranous. Leaves cauline, alternate, pinnately to ternately or biternately compound or divided; stipules absent; petiole present; blade sometimes ± leathery, ultimate margins entire or ± toothed. Inflorescences usually terminal, solitary flowers [2-3+ flowers in clusters]. Flowers bisexual; perianth and androecium perigynous; hypanthium absent; sepals [2-]5-6[-10+], distinct, unequal, ± leathery; petals [4-]5-6[-10+; -25+ in cultivars], distinct; stamens usually 50-200+, inserted on torus (sometimes called disc) interior to petals, distinct; anthers erect, basifixed, extrorse, dehiscent by longitudinal slits; staminodes absent, intrastaminal glands sometimes interpreted as staminodes; pistils [1-]5[-15], each 1-carpellate; ovary superior, distinct, 1-locular; placentation marginal; ovules anatropous, bitegmic, crassinucellate; styles 1 per carpel or ± absent; stigmas 1 per carpel, ± apical and adaxial. Fruits follicles, dehiscence adaxial. Seeds mostly 2-5 per carpel, dark brown to blackish, ± cylindric to arcuate [globose], outer integuments relatively thick, sometimes interpreted as arils; embryo dicotyledonous, relatively small; endosperm oily.
Shrubs or perennial herbs, to 3.5 m tall. Roots fleshy, thick but attenuate toward tip, or tuberous. Stems (in herbs) or current year’s branchlets (in shrubs) terete, with several persistent scales at base. Leaves alternate, compound; proximal 1--3 best developed, 1--3-ternate or 1- or 2-pinnate; leaflets entire or divided. Flowers solitary and terminal, or 2 or more per shoot and both terminal and axillary, more than 4 cm in diam. Bracts 1--6, leaflike, varying in shape and size, grading into sepals. Sepals 2--9, varying in shape and size. Petals 4--13, varying in color. Stamens up to 230; filaments and anthers varying in color. Disc leathery or fleshy, annular (in herbs) or extended into a sheath and 1/3 to wholly enveloping carpels (in shrubs). Carpels 1--5(--8), free, glabrous or hairy; ovules numerous, borne in two rows along ventral suture. Styles present or absent; stigmas laterally flattened, recurved, crested. Fruit a follicle. Seeds black or dark brown, globose or ovoid-globose, to 1.3 cm in diam.