Bushes or small trees with simple, smooth-edged leaves. There are often tiny scales or hairs on the leaf undersurface, twigs and fruit. The small flowers are single or in clusters at the leaf bases and have a tubular, 4-lobed corolla-like calyx but no petals. Fruit is small drupe (fleshy with a hard central core containing 1 seed).


A family of trees and bushes. In our area includes the ashes (Fraxinus genus), trees with opposite pinnately compound leaves and male and female flowers on separate trees (the males in roundish clusters and the females in upright branched clusters); the lilacs (Syringa genus), bushes with opposite simple leaves and fragrant purple flowers in elongated clusters; privits (Ligustrum genus), bushes with simple leaves, white flowers in dense clusters and purple berries; and fringe tree (Chionanthus genus), a small tree with simple leaves and flowers in drooping clusters.


The bilaterally symmetrical flowers may be solitary or in clusters or spikes, and have 3 petal-like sepals and 3 petals. The lowest petal, the "lip", is larger than the others and often forms an elaborate sac, often with a spur. The 1 or 2 stamens are joined with the style and stigma in a column. The simple, usually alternate leaves are parallel-veined

This family is a very large one. Tropical orchids are often epiphytic (live in trees).