Annual to perennial, sometimes suffruticose, herbs, subshrubs or shrubs, often aromatic and usually with some sessile oil glands or glandular hairs. Plants glabrous or with an indumentum of simple, branched to stellate-dendroid hairs. Stems often 4-angled. Leaves opposite and decussate, without stipules, sometimes in whorls, undivided to pinnate, petiolate or sessile. Inflorescence of variously arranged cymes, often in condensed false whorls of flowers (verticillasters), forming ‘spikes’, heads, racemes or panicles. Flowers borne in axils of leaves or subtended by bracts clearly different from leaves. Bracteoles present or absent. Flowers usually hermaphrodite, but male-sterile in gynodioecious plants. Calyx bilabiate to actinomorphic: with a 3-lobed upper lip and a 2-lobed lower lip, or a 1-lobed upper lip and a 4-lobed lower lip, or a 1-lobed upper and lower lip, enlarging in fruit or not, veins 5-20; tube glabrous within to densely bearded. Corolla gamopetalous, zygomorphic and bilabiate to actinomorphic, variously arranged; upper (adaxial) lip entire or emarginate with a 3-lobed lower (abaxial) lip; upper lip of 1 lobe and lower lip 4-lobed; upper lobe wanting and lower lip apparently 5-lobed; or lobes subequal, 4 or 5. Stamens variously inserted on corolla, 4, often with 2 (usually anterior pair) longer and 2 (usually posterior pair) shorter (didynamous); or 2 (the anterior or lower pair in almost all cases), with usually 2 (posterior or upper pair) staminodes; anther thecae 2-locular or 1-loaular (by fusion or not), parallel, divergent or separated by an elongated connective. Pollen tricolpate or 6-colpate, rarely tetracolpate. Ovary 4-lobed, superior of 2 carpels, eventually divided into 4, 1-ovulate loculi; nectary disk often present. Style generally arising from base of the ovary divisions, gynobasic, rarely inserted above base of ovary lobes; stigma equally or unequally bifid. Fruit of 4, sometimes less, dry variously shaped nutlets included within the calyx; nutlets mucilaginous on wetting (myxospermic) or not; seeds without or with little endosperm; embryo straight or curved.
An almost cosmopolitan family of about 180 genera and possibly over 3500 species; related to Verbenaceae in which the style is ± terminal, not gynobasic, the ovary is not or scarcely lobed and the plants are rarely aromatic. Sexual dimorphism, especially gynodioecism, is quite a frequent phenomenon in Labiatae and in some genera, this, combined with hybridization and phenotypic plasticity, often makes for difficulties in delimiting species.
Doubtfully in our area
Colquhounia coccinea Wall. (Trans. Linn. Soc. London 13: 609. 1822) is recorded by Mukerjee (Rec. Bot. Surv. Ind. 14, 1: 155. 1940) from Kashmir, without any further detail. I have seen no specimens from Kashmir and I have not found any other reference in the literature to its presence there. It may be cultivated. It is a tall sturdy shrub up to 3 or 4 metres with a ± dense stellate-dendroid pubescence; the leaves are large ovate up to 10 x 5 cm, usually discolorous; the corolla is orange-red to scarlet c. 2 cm or more long.
Acknowledgements: The financial assistance received from the United States Department of Agriculture under P.L. 480 with the coordination of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, Islamabad, is thankfully acknowledged.