Maesa comprises about 200 species, which occur in the Old World from Africa to Australia and the Pacific. They are shrubs or rarely small trees, with simple, usually punctate leaves with entire, serrate or dentate margins. They may be dioecious, or individual plants may bear a few flowers of the opposite gender or a few hermaphrodite flowers. Inflorescences are racemose or paniculate and bear multiple small bracts. The flowers are small, 5-merous and subtended by two bracteoles; the calyx is funnel-shaped and the corolla is white or yellow and bell-shaped. The fruit is a berry or a drupe (Chen & Pipoly 1996).
In addition to Maesa montana, described below, M. japonica (Thunb.) Moritzi is commercially available in the United Kingdom and the United States. It is said to be a shrub or small tree, to 5 m (Huxley et al. 1992), and is sometimes grown under glass. Maesa hupehensis Rehder is in cultivation at Berkeley and perhaps elsewhere in the United States. Maesa argentea (Wall.) A. DC. is grown at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. All are rather shrubby.