They are evergreen shrubs or small trees, growing to 5 m tall. They have simple, opposite, evergreen leaves and clusters of small flowers lacking petals. The sepals are capped in bud by a lidlike cover, which is shed later. The fruit is a dry, berry-like, reddish brown. The bark is smooth to scaly and pale-white in color.
Fourteen species occur within the U.S. in Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Pale Lidflower or Spicewood (C. pallens) is a shrub or small tree, that can grow to 7 m tall, with leaves 5–7.5 cm long and 1 cm wide; fruits oblong.
Myrtle-of-the-river (C. zygium) is a large, evergreen shrub from tropical America. It has smaller, elliptical leaves, a nipple-like apex on a floral lid, and globular fruits.