Rhizomatous perennial herbs. Roots fibrous to fleshy-fibrous. Leaves several, distichous, with overlapping bases. Inflorescence a terminal cymose panicle. Flowers bisexual; sepals and petals subequal, free, blue, purple or white; stamens 6, filaments distinctly swollen apically (the swollen structure often termed a struma), anthers basifixed, dehiscing apically by pores; ovary superior, usually 3-locular; ovules 2–12 per locule; style short, filiform, stigma minute, capitate. Fruit a berry; seeds, angular or sub-globose, shiny black.
About 35 named species, in Africa, South-east Asia, the Pacific Islands, New Zealand and Australia; about 20 named species in Australia but rather more are believed to await formal description, mostly northern and eastern, 10 recognised species in Victoria.
The genus is under revision and the number of species given above is likely to prove to be conservative. A number of manuscript or informal names exist for Victorian plants but to date no clear circumscriptions for these are available. These will be added to VicFlora as concepts are clarified.