Perennial herbs from condensed, sympodial rhizomes; aerial shoots erect, unbranched, hollow except for the nodes, terete or rarely compressed. Leaves distichous; sheath open, more or less ligulate; blade linear-lanceolate with constricted base, pubescent, plicate, the veins anastomosing. Inflorescence terminal, many-flowered, paniculiform, bracteate. Flowers (sub-)sessile, hermaphroditic, actinomorphic, pentacyclic, trimerous. Tepals free or almost so, dry, bractlike with thickened bases, concave, persistent. Stamens free or slightly adnate to the perianth base; anthers basifixed, sagittate, dithecal, introrse, opening by longitudinal slits. Ovary superior, globose, trilocular, each locule containing a single, atropous, apical-axile, pendulous ovule; styluli 3, free or slightly connate at the base; stigmas feathery, papillate. Fruit drupaceous, 3-1-seeded, whitish or reddish to black at maturity. Seeds with copious, starchy endosperm and minute discoid embryo.
A monogeneric family with 2 spp. distributed from the Malay Peninsula to Sumatra, Borneo and many Pacific Islands.
The species occur on non-swampy soils in moderately humid to dry light forests, forest margins, thickets and mountain ridges up to more than 1900m above sea level (Backer 1951; Newell 1969). According to Linder 1987 they probably germinate exclusively on mineral soils and represent early successional plants.
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