Perennial herbs and shrubs; stems much branched, ultimate divisions spinose. Leaves alternate, simple, entire; stipules minute. Inflorescence a few-flowered lax axillary raceme, rachis spine-tipped; bract and bracteoles small. Calyx tube campanulate; teeth subequal, minute; petals pink, purple or crimson and yellow; standard obovate, cucullate, margins inflexed, claw very short; keel obtuse, about same length as wings and standard; stamens diadelphous in 2 bundles of 5, anthers uniform; ovary subsessile, glabrous, ovules many. Pod elongate, subterete or slightly compressed, indehiscent, often constricted between seeds; seeds reniform, aril absent.
5 species in the east Mediterranean and north Africa to central Asia; 1 species naturalised in southern Australia.
In hot weather, plants exude a gum called 'Persian manna'.