About 30 species of evergreen shrubs or trees, bark aromatic.  Leaves are alternate, simple, with entire margins, green above, lighter below and dotted with translucent or colored dots or glands, often with red petioles.  Flowers in axillary or terminal clusters, calyx 2-3 lobed, petals 2 to many, white, yellowish to pink, numerous stamens.  Fruit a many seeded berry.  Highly variable within a species, causing "taxonomic uncertainty" (some references state that there are at least 70 species in this genus).  Native to South America, Malaysia, and Australia.
Drimys: from the Greek, meaning acrid, a reference to the taste of the bark.