Lianescent or epiphytic perennial herbs with tough fibrous stems; all parts of the plant (especially floral tissues) containing needle-like trichosclereids. Leaves numerous; petiole pulvinate apically, with sheath extending over most of petiole length; blade entire, oblong-ovate or lanceolate, often oblique (pinnatifid or perforated in many extra-African species); primary and secondary lateral veins parallel. Inflorescences 1–few, appearing with the leaves. Spathe boat-shaped, erect, soon withering and deciduous after flowering. Spadix cylindric, uniform in appearance. Flowers bisexual, lacking perigon, densely congested. Stamens 4; anthers dehiscing by oblique apical slits; connective very slender; filaments oblong, flattened. Pistil prismatic, truncate at apex; ovary unilocular, with 1–2(–3) intrusive parietal placentas and sometimes also base of locule bearing ovules; stigma sessile, linear to elliptic, ± prominent. Berries many-seeded. Seeds elongate, fusiform or flattened, straight or slightly curved; endosperm copious; embryo axile, straight or slightly curved.
HABIT : evergreen, usually climbing herbs, more rarely repent, often extremely robust, climbing branches often thick, producing anchor and feeder roots, flagelliform shoots also produced, stem often square in cross section. LEAVES : many, distichous, juvenile shingle plants occur in some species. PETIOLE : geniculate apically, sheath usually relatively long. BLADE : lanceolate or oblong, ± oblique, entire, perforate or pinnatifid to pinnatisect, often very large, lobes often subfalcately narrowed; primary lateral veins pinnate, running into marginal vein, often not differentiated from secondaries, secondary laterals ± parallel-pinnate, higher order venation reticulate. INFLORESCENCE : usually solitary, rarely more. PEDUNCLE : relatively short. SPATHE : boat-shaped, deciduous. SPADIX : subcylindric, conic, clavate, often extremely thick, sessile to stipitate, shorter than spathe. FLOWERS : bisexual, perigone absent. STAMENS : 4, filaments oblong-linear, anthers much shorter than filaments, connective slender, thecae ellipsoid, dehiscing by longitudinal slit. POLLEN : dicolpate, extended monosulcate to perhaps fully zonate, ellipsoid or hamburger-shaped, medium-sized (mean 33 µm., range 24-55 µm.), exine foveolate, subreticulate, rugulate, fossulate, scabrate, retiscabrate, verrucate, or psilate. GYNOECIUM : obconic-prismatic to oblong, truncate, ovary 1- to partially 2-locular, ovules few to many, anatropous, funicle long, placentae parietal to basal, sometimes ± subaxile, partial septa variably intrusive, stylar region well developed, usually broader than ovary, usually truncate apically, rarely elongate-conic, stigma broadly elliptic or oblong and then transverse or longitudinal, or punctate-prominent. BERRY : usually many-seeded, stylar region deciduous at maturity, red or yellow. SEED : oblong, testa thin, smooth, embryo axile, straight, endosperm copious.
Evergreen, often very robust, climbing hemiepiphytes, very rarely rheophytic, with abundant trichosclereids; petiole geniculate apically, sheath usually long; leaf blade entire, pinnatifid to pinnatisect, sometimes perforate, fine venation from parallel-pinnate to reticulate; spathe deciduous after flowering; flowers bisexual, perigone absent. Differs from Epipremnum in usually numerous ovules, on 2 (rarely 3) parietal placentas, seeds oblong, straight. Differs from Scindapsus in often having pinnatisect or perforate leaves, and more numerous ovules. Differs from Amydrium in having abundant trichosclereids in all tissues.