HABIT : small to large, evergreen herbs, rarely shortly, densely or long-pubescent, stem rhizomatous or epigeal, shortly erect. LEAVES : numerous, rarely distichous. PETIOLE : sheath less than half petiole length, sometimes with long apical ligule. BLADE : narrow-elliptic, elliptic, lanceolate, oblanceolate, ovate, obovate, cordate, cordate-sagittate, sometimes variegated with paler or silvery green, white or yellow; primary lateral veins pinnate, running into distinct marginal vein, secondary and tertiary laterals parallel-pinnate, higher order venation transverse-reticulate. INFLORESCENCE : 1-3 (or more) in each floral sympodium. PEDUNCLE : shorter than petiole. SPATHE : constricted between tube and blade, sometimes only slightly so, rarely not at all, tube convolute, persistent, blade thinner, erect, broadly boat-shaped, gaping at anthesis, caducous at anthesis, rarely marcescent, usually white to cream, sometimes greenish-yellow, very rarely pink, cuspidate to acuminate. SPADIX : shorter than or equalling spathe, lower part consisting of cylindric to conoid female zone, free or partially adnate to spathe, sometimes bearing sterile organs at the very base, upper part of spadix usually ± clavate, sometimes subcylindric, either fertile male below and sterile terminally, or sterile below and fertile male terminally, or sterile below, centrally fertile male and sterile terminally, lowermost sterile zone sometimes very laxly flowered, often constricted. FLOWERS : unisexual, perigone absent. MALE FLOWER : 2-3-androus, stamens very short to long, filaments usually well-developed, sometimes connate basally, always with distinctive tannin cells (dark in dried specimens), connective usually rather slender, sometimes thicker apically, anthers truncate, often concave apically, thecae opposite, cylindric or obconic to ovoid, dehiscing by apical, broadly elliptic, or bilobed pore. POLLEN : extruded in strands, inaperturate, ellipsoid to oblong, small (mean 20 µm., range 15-26 µm.), exine perfectly psilate, rarely rugulate to verruculate (S. spruceana). STERILE MALE FLOWERS : staminodes less compressed than stamens, obpyramidal to clavate, usually truncate, short to long. FEMALE FLOWER : gynoecium sometimes accompanied by 1-4 clavate, rarely peltate staminodes with generally distinctly swollen apices, or rarely with sterile flowers scattered among gynoecia, ovary 1-locular, ovules (1-)few to many, anatropous to hemianatropous, funicle rather long, placentae 1-4, parietal, usually extending from base to apex of locule, style absent or very short, sometimes shortly conoid, stigma discoid to capitate, small to as wide as ovary. BERRY : oblong to globose, green or dull yellow or deep red, few to many-seeded. SEED : ellipsoid, testa costate, embryo straight, elongate, endosperm copious.