Annual-perennial herbs to shrubs of varying habit, mat forming - erect subshrubs. Leaves simple, basal or cauline or both, basal often forming a rosette, cauline opposite rarely alternate. Inflorescence various: racemes, cymes, verticillate clusters or solitary. Flowers variously coloured: blue, purple, violet, pink, white, yellow, 4-8 (-10) merous, bisexual, regular actino-zygomorphic. Calyx also variable with 4-8 (-10) united, or free or semiunited sepals, or calyx divided from one side. Corolla 4-8 (-10) merous, provided with or without appendages or subsidiary lobes, fimbriate or fimbriae absent, nectaries either epipetalous or at base of ovary or absent. Ovary superior, unilocular, with parietal placentation. Fruit a 2 valved dehiscent capsule. Seeds few to many.
A family of more than 90 genera and ± 1000 species, distributed in both the hemispheres: In Pakistan, the family is represented by 15 genera and c. 77 species.
Acknowlegements: We are grateful to the Directors/Curators of the following herbaria for herbarium and library facilities: B, BLATT, BM, CAL, E, G, K, LE, LINN, LIV, NA, NY, O, P, PPFI-B, RAW, RNG, PESH, W, and WU. Thanks are also due to Dr. M.I. Hakki, Dr. H.W. Lack, Dr. R.K. Brummitt, Mr. R. Vickory, Mrs. R. Khan, Dr. C.E. Jarvis, Prof. I.C.Hedge, Dr. D. Long, Dr. R.R. Mill, Dr. Y.J. Nasir, Dr. S.L. Jury and Prof. Dr. K.H. Rechinger for discussing various problems from time to time and for their advice and suggestions. The financial assistance provided by the United States Department of Agriculture under PL. 480 with the coordination of Pakistan Agriculture Research Council, Islamabad is gratefully acknowledged.