Approximately 450 species of evergreen and deciduous shrubs and small trees from the northern hemisphere and mountains of tropical Africa and Madagascar, America and Asia. They have simple leaves and nodding to pendent tubular, bell or urn-shaped flowers with four or five short petal lobes. The fruit is an edible berry sometimes large and colourful enough to be showy.
The smaller hardy species described here are suitable for the larger rock garden providing the soil is moist and acid and the site at least moderately sunny. All species can also be grown as specimen pot plants in the alpine house. Propagation by cuttings in late summer, suckers in autumn or spring, or seed ideally sown as soon as ripe, in a cold frame.