Prostrate shrubs to small trees. Leaves alternate, more or less coriaceous, concolorous or discolorous, the lower surface usually somewhat striate from the 3–several longitudinal (rarely palmate) nerves. Inflorescences terminal and/or axillary, with flowers solitary, or few to many in spikes; individual flowers with a bract and a pair of bracteoles immediately subtending sepals; sepals resembling bracts but larger; corolla lobes valvate in bud, finally spreading to recurved, white-bearded internally (rarely papillose or glabrous); stamens inserted just below lobes; filaments shorter than anthers; anthers with a sterile tip; ovary 2–5(–6)-locular, with 1 ovule per loculus, completely encircled by nectary of 5 lobes, style slender and terete or thickish near base and tapered upwards. Fruit a drupe.
About 230 species (with many more to be described from Western Australia), all but c. 30 endemic in Australia, the remainder extending from Malesia north-west to Indo-China, and south-east to New Zealand.
As presently understood the genus is heterogeneous. Taxa with functionally unisexual flowers have recently been placed in a new genus Acrothamnus, while a recent study suggests that some species of Leucopogon are better placed in Styphelia (Puente-Lelievre et al. 2015).
Puente-Lelièvre, C.; Hislop, M.; Harrington, M.; Brown, E.A.; Kuzmina, M. & Crayn, D.M. (2015). A five-marker molecular phylogeny of the Styphelieae (Epacridoideae, Ericaceae) supports a broad concept of Styphelia, Australian Systematic Botany 28: 368–387.