Mostly twining woody climbers, rarely erect shrubs. Leaves alternate, without stipules, palmate or occasionally pinnate, leaflet stalks mostly swollen at the base. Flowers at the base of branches, regular, bisexual or more often unisexual with the sexes on different or same plants and organs of other sex poorly developed. Sepals usually in two groups of 3, often petal-like. Petals 6 (also in 2 groups of 3), smaller than the sepals or absent. Nectaries generally numerous. Stamens usually 6, free or partly fused into a tube. Carpels 3 or more. Ovary superior with 1 to many ovules. Fruit a follicle or berry.
Affinities of the family are with Ranunculaceae, Berberidaceae and Menispermaceae. The only shrubby genus in the family is Decaisnea which contains a single species D. fargesii from the Himalaya to China; it is occasionally sold in specialist nurseries.
Stauntonia hexaphylla (Thunb.) Decne. from Japan and China is occasionally grown; it has 6 sepals, 3-7 leaflets and white flowers tinged with violet.
Used locally for medicines; the fibres of some vines are used to make rope; the nuts of Akebia edible.
Mostly woody vines with digitate leaves having 5 (rarely 3) leaflets; flowers vanilla-scented, floral parts basically in 3s.
7 genera with about 40 species from the Himalaya to Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, and 2 species in S America.
Source: (1997). Lardizabalaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.