Monoecious. Herbs or small shrubs, with latex. Flowers in small groups surrounded by a more or less deeply lobed involucre with 4-5 (rarely more) glands at the top and usually pubescent within, the whole forming a cyathium. 'Inflorescemce' of cyathia usually umbellate, often with axillary rays below the umbel. Perianth absent. Male flowers of a single stamen jointed to the pedicel. Female flowers solitary, pedicellate, surrounded by several male flowers; ovary 3-locular, with 3, usually free, stykes; ovules solitary in each loculus. Seeds usually carunculate.
In the following account the inflorescence is referred to as an umbel, though it is not strictly one. The leaves subtending the primary branches (rays) of the umbel are called ray-leaves and those subtending the ultimate branches raylet-leaves. The bracts , when present, subtend the individual male flowers in the cyathium.
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