Shrubs , evergreen, to ca. 2 m, glabrous. Rhizomes absent. Aerial stems monomorphic, mostly unbranched, with leaves densely clustered mostly along distal 1/3 of plant. Leaves persistent, alternate, 2-3-pinnately compound; petiole attached at base of blade, petioles and petiolules swollen at base. Leaf blade broadly ovate in overall outline, 30-50 cm; leaflet blades elliptic to ovate to lanceolate, margins entire; venation pinnate. Inflorescences terminal or axillary panicles of dozens to hundreds of flowers. Flowers 3-merous, 5-7 mm; bracteoles present; all perianth parts caducous, cream to white; sepals and petals intergrading, 27-36; nectariferous petals absent; stamens 6; anthers dehiscing by longitudinal slits; pollen exine punctate; ovary club-shaped; placentation submarginal; style central. Fruits berries, red to purplish, orbicular. Seeds 1-3, grayish or brownish; aril absent. Nandina is treated as a separate family, Nandinaceae, by A. Takhtajan (1986).