Possibly as many as fifty species of evergreen perennials from south-east Asia, the Himalaya and Japan. They are basically of grassy appearance, clump or colony-forming, with tough linear leaves and simple racemes of small semi-globose to bell-shaped, six-tepalled flowers followed by fleshy, berry-like fruits.
Better suited as ground cover between shrubs than the alpine garden but the clump-formers can be used in shaded parts of a large rock garden. Also useful in pots in the alpine house in winter to provide pleasing background greenery. Propagation by division in spring, or seed in a cold frame when ripe.