Trees, shrubs, or subshrubs; stems often containing white latex; stipules intrapetiolar, distinct to connate, persistent. Inflorescence terminal or lateral, unbranched or branched, each branch a raceme of few-flowered cincinni (rarely dichasia) or a pseudoraceme of single flowers [1-flowered cincinni]; bracts eglandular, persistent. Petals subentire, slightly erose, or minutely denticulate or fimbriate; stamens 10, glabrous or bearing a few hairs at base of filaments; filaments distinct or slightly connate at base; anthers all fertile (except in pistillate flowers of Spachea), alike or subequal, the connective never exceeding locules; pollen radially symmetrical, 3 (–4)-colporate, the colpi branched in some spp.; carpels 2 or 3, both or all containing ovules, completely connate in ovary along a narrow to broad adaxial axis or face; styles as many as carpels, the stigmas apical. Fruit dry, breaking apart into cocci borne on a flat or very short torus; cocci unwinged, dorsally keeled or smooth and rounded, with thin brittle walls, indehiscent or opening along the dorsal keel (in nature?), but not enough to release the spheroidal seed.
Distribution: Mexico, Central America, South America (Galphimia to southern Texas, USA; Spachea also in eastern Cuba).
The genera of the Galphimia clade are typically byrsonimoid in their non-vining habits, intrapetiolar stipules, colporate pollen, and (except for Spachea) slender subulate styles. As a clade they enjoy strong molecular support (see phylogenetic tree, Davis & Anderson 2010 [pdf]) and morphological similarity in several characters, including subentire or only minutely denticulate petals, glabrous or nearly glabrous stamens, similar or subequal anthers in which the connective never exceeds the locules, and a dry fruit breaking apart into unwinged cocci with thin brittle walls. The colpi of the pollen grains are distally bifurcate in some species of this clade, a condition found in no other Malpighiaceae (Lowrie, 1982). The four genera all contain laticifers in their stems that produce a white latex (Vega et al., 2002), although the latex is much more abundant and evident in Lophanthera and Spachea than in Galphimia and Verrucularia. No other genera of Malpighiaceae have been reported to produce latex.
The Galphimia clade has the tribal name Galphimeae Nied. (Niedenzu, 1890); the type is Galphimia Cav.