In Family Thymelaeaceae > Subfamily Thymelaeoideae Plants of the World Online recognises 26 species from Australia to Sri Lanka.
Four species are endemic in Queensland – Phaleria biflora, P. chermsideana, P. clerodendron and P. octandra.
They are evergreen shrubs from 1 to 3 m high or trees up to 10 (18) m.
There may be multiple trunks sometimes with buttress roots.

The simple dark green leaves are opposite and sometimes in 2 ranks (decussate).
Petioles can be from 2 to 15 mm long.
The elliptic or sometimes ovate blades are commonly around 10 (2 to 20) cm long and 4 (2 to 7) cm wide.
The pointed tip has concave edges just below it and the base is wedge-shaped.
There are no hairs on the stems or leaves.

Inflorescences can be on the ends of branches, in the leaf axils or on bare stems and the trunk.
Sometimes a solitary flower they are mostly clusters all attached at the same point.
Clusters may be on a stalk (peduncle) up to 2 cm long or directly attached (sessile).
There are 2 to 4 involucral bracts just under the flowers that persist or fall off early.

Clusters often only have 2 to 10 flowers but there may be up to 25.
The flowers can be sessile or on a very short stalk or pedicel.
The funnel-shaped bisexual flowers are 1 to 4 cm long.
Mostly white they can be cream, green or pink and there are often tiny hairs.

There are no petals but 4 (5 or occasionally 6) petal-like sepals with their bases fused.
This tubular section is mostly described as a hypanthium but also as a floral or perianth tube.
Attached to the rim are the small sepal lobes, under 1 cm long that curve back.
The lobes may have a few to dense small hairs.

There are 4 stamens in 1 whorl attached to the top of the hypanthium or 8 with the second whorl inserted lower down.
Stamens usually extend past the perianth.
Between the stamens and ovary is a cup-like or lobed nectary disc.
The superior ovary has 2 (1) locules and a style with a spherical or cylindrical stigma.

The fruit are spherical to ovate drupes 1 to 5 cm long that may be compressed laterally.
Maturing from green to red they have 1 (rarely 2) seeds surrounded by fleshy or fibrous tissue.