Aromatic trees and shrubs, usually evergreen. The leaves are alternate, rarely opposite, simple, exstipulate, and mostly leathery, punctate. The flowers are perfect or imperfect, yellow or greenish and regular. The calyx is usually 6-parted, the segms. in 2 series. There are no petals. The stamens are in 3-4 whorls of 3 each, some frequently reduced to staminodia; anthers 2-4 celled, opening by uplifting valves. The ovary is usually superior and free, 1-celled, 1-ovuled, with a single style. The fruit is a berry or drupe, indehiscent. (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 544).
About 40 genera and 1000 spp, widely distributed in trop., less so in temp. regions. Some grown for ornament, some (avocado, cinnamon and camphor) of economic importance. (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 544). Also bay-leaf and some fine cabinet woods are in this genus. (John Johnson).