About 150 species of annuals, biennials, perennials and subshrubs of worldwide distribution. They have simple or pinnately lobed leaves often in rosettes, and stiff panicles composed of small spikelets of flowers. These are tubular with a persistent, sometimes coloured calyx and a five-lobed corolla, often of a contrasting colour.
The hardy species make good plants for the rock garden, raised bed, scree and dry wall; the less hardy sorts for the alpine house. A sunny site and ordinary well drained soil are the basic requirements. Propagation by seed or division in spring, the subshrubs by cuttings in late summer.