Erect or sprawling shrubs, sometimes shrubby trees 1-4 m tall, new growth finely scurfy and sparsely to densely grayish puberulent, becoming glabrate.
Leaves usually with a strong anise odor when crushed, upper surface darker green, opposite or sometimes (O`ahu) in whorls of 3-4 per node, coriaceous, narrowly to broadly elliptic or suborbicular, 3-23 cm long, 2-12 cm wide, midrib often tinged red or purple, primary lateral veins usually 8-12 pairs, both surfaces glabrous or very sparsely puberulent along midrib, margins often revolute near base, apex rounded and usually emarginate, sometimes obtuse, base broadly cuneate, rounded, or cordate, petioles 13-40(-50) mm long, glabrate or sometimes puberulent.
Flowers 3-10(-21) in minutely grayish puberulent to glabrate cymes, peduncles stout, (7-)15-40 mm long, pedicels usually stout, 3-6 mm long, bracteoles lanceolate, upper ones deltate, 1-3 mm long, minutely ciliate and sparsely puberulent; staminate flowers with sepals deltate-ovate, ca. 2 mm long, sparsely puberulent, petals narrowly ovate, ca. 7-8 mm long, glabrous, nectary disk glabrous, ovary rudimentary; pistillate flowers with sepals deltate-ovate, ca. 2 mm long, sparsely puberulent, petals narrowly ovate, 5-6 mm long, glabrous, nectary disk glabrous, stamens reduced, ovary glabrous, style reddish, filiform, ca. 2 mm long.
Capsules usually dark green, ca. 6-14 mm long, 13-28 mm wide, carpels completely connate to connate ca. 2/3 their length, exocarp glabrous, glandular punctate, endocarp glabrous.