Woody climbers, vines, perennial herbs, trees or shrubs, more rarely annuals, sometimes with large water-storing tubers or a xylopod, sometimes succulent, with large grappling hooks and/or tendrils in several lianoid genera of Willughbeieae; latex in non-articulated laticifers present, most commonly white, but in some genera usually translucent and in others yellowish or reddish. Leaves simple and usually entire, very rarely dentate or repand, usually isophyllous, but often anisophyllous in Tabernaemontaneae-Tabernaemontiinae, sometimes with distinctly different juvenile and adult foliage, normally petiolate, sometimes sessile, usually opposite, less frequently alternate or whorled (whorled phyllotaxis characteristic for a number of Rauvolfioid genera); stipules usually absent or small and caducous, sometimes enlarged and fused into dentate interpetiolar collars (a few Periplocoid genera), commonly with interpetiolar lines or ridges, sometimes the petioles of a leaf pair connate at the node, forming a short ocrea, which may be expanded into small intrapetiolar flaps clasping the stem (Tabernaemontaneae), almost always with colleters in the axil of the leaf, sometimes on the petiole, in a cluster adaxially at the juncture of petiole and lamina or along the midrib above, occasionally with abaxial domatia in the axils of the secondary veins (mainly in Apocynoids). Flowers perfect, rarely functionally dioecious, often scented, sessile or more commonly pedicellate, in solitary or more commonly in axillary, extra-axillary or terminal multi-flowered cymes, panicles or thyrses, sometimes appearing as an axillary fascicle. Perianth almost always actinomorphic, very rarely slightly zygomorphic; calyx almost always 5- (rarely 4- or 6–7-)merous, lobes normally quincuncially arranged, synsepalous or aposepalous, commonly with colleters, in Periplocoideae, Secamonoideae and Asclepiadoideae these are usually in the sinuses, but in some Rauvolfioids and several Apocynoids colleters in a continuous ring, in multiple rows in some Tabernaemontaneae and Hunterieae, or a single antesepalous colleter (especially in Echiteae), and in several genera of Rauvolfioids and Apocynoids colleters are absent; corolla sympetalous, rarely apopetalous (a few Ceropegieae), salverform, infundibuliform, tubular, urceolate or rotate, lobes almost always 5 (very rarely 4), usually contorted in bud, either dextrorse or sinistrorse, more rarely valvate; corolline or gynostegial coronas often present; stamens 5 (rarely 4), filaments mostly straight, sometimes geniculate, sometimes connate around the style (some species of Forsteronia, Thoreauea), sometimes coiled around the style (Dewevrella, some species of Parsonsia and Thenardia), inserted on the corolla tube, on prominent staminal feet (broadened filament base fused with corolla tube) or forming a staminal tube, included to exserted; anthers introrse, rarely latrorse, in almost all Apocynoids, Secamonoideae and Asclepiadoideae with highly elaborated and lignified guide rails (lignified guide rails absent in most Rauvolfioids and in Periplocoideae) and often with an apical connective appendage, thecae 4, unequal in most Apocynoids, with dorsal ones smaller through presence of guide rails, reduced to 2 in Asclepiadoideae, dehiscence longitudinal, attached to the style-head forming a gynostegium (gynostegium absent in Rauvolfioids); nectaries in alternistaminal pockets on the staminal tube, on sides of staminal feet or 5 (rarely 2) lobes encircling the base of the ovary, these often fused to varying degrees into an (often deeply lobed) ring (in some Rauvolfioids and early-branching Apocynoids nectaries are adnate to the outer wall of the ovary at the base or are sometimes nonfunctional or absent); gynoecium normally of two carpels (very rarely up to five); ovary mostly apocarpous, sometimes congenitally (Rauvolfioids only) or postgenitally syncarpous (several Apocynoids), in some genera only one carpel developing, superior to subinferior; placentation marginal when the ovary is apocarpous, parietal or axile when syncarpous, when apocarpous upper part of the carpels fusing postgenitally to form a complex style-head that produces adhesive for pollen transport, with a pollen-trapping basal collar and/or pollen-presenting upper crest present in many Rauvolfioids and Apocynoids; stigma mostly on the underside of the style-head, often restricted to five chambers behind the guide rails, but style-head scarcely morphologically differentiated and nearly uniformly receptive in some Rauvolfioids; adhesive a sticky foam or mucilage, or differentiated into five translators with a scoop-like pollen receptacle and sticky base, or as five hard clips (corpuscles) usually accompanied by five pairs of flexible arms (caudicles) forming a pollinarium. Fruit in Rauvolfioids diverse: drupes, berries, follicles or capsules; seeds usually without a coma, naked, arillate, or winged or fimbriate at the margin very rarely with a coma (Haplophyton); in the remainder of the family, fruit almost always a pair of ventrally dehiscent follicles (often only one due to abortion or due to postgenital fusion; rarely a septicidally dehiscent capsule) with small seeds with a micropylar coma, rarely with a chalazal coma, coma at both ends (only in early-branching Apocynoids), or fringed with long trichomes circumferentially (a few Periplocoid and Hoya species), or without a coma.