Shrubs, less often small trees, woody climbers or herbs; indumentum of branches, lower surface of leaves and inflorescence usually of stellate hairs (in Victoria). Leaves often thick and wrinkled, frequently toothed or crenate, petiolate (sometimes perfoliate). Inflorescence terminal and/or axillary, thyrsoid, spike-like or globular; flowers 4-merous. Calyx-lobes slightly longer to much shorter than the tube, outer surface usually hairy; corolla c. trumpet-shaped (in Victoria), white to orange, violet or purple, often with an orange throat; anthers included or exserted, dorsifixed, deeply lobed at base. Fruit a 2-valved septicidal capsule, or berry; seeds often winged.
About 90 species, from tropical and sutropical America, Africa, Asia, New Guinea and New Caledonia; 6 species naturalised in Australia.
Several species and cultivars are cultivated for ornament, perfume and as butterfly attractants (hence the common name 'Butterfly Bush').