About 50 species of mainly small evergreen and deciduous shrubs from Europe and Asia. They have simple, entire leaves generally alternately arranged, but in opposite pairs in D. genkwa. The small tubular flowers have four spreading lobes, either in dense terminal heads or axillary clusters mainly towards the ends of the previous season's stems. Fruits are basically one-seeded berry-likedrupes, but in some species only barely or not at all fleshy.
All the more easily cultivated smaller species make splendid rock garden specimen shrubs; both easily grown and the more difficult sorts can be grown in the alpine house. Well drained but moisture retentive soil is needed, ideally neutral to moderately alkaline, though all but strongly acid rooting media are also suitable. Most species prefer a sunny site though most stand a little shade and some are naturally woodland plants, e.g. D. mezereum and D. pontica. Propagation by seed, ideally when ripe in a cold frame, cuttings mid to late summer, or layering in spring. (only those approximately under 60cm high at maturity are included)