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A genus of aromatic shrubs and herbs in which twenty-five species are recognised by Miss D. A. Chaytor in her monograph in Journ. Linn. Soc., Vol. 51 (1937–8), pp. 153–204. Inflorescence a distinctly stalked terminal spike. Fruits dividing into four nutlets. The species treated here belong to the sections Spica and Stoechas in both of which the spikes are cylindrical, with bracts arranged in opposite pairs, the fertile ones each subtending a condensed cyme with two to seven flowers; calyx and corolla tubular, the upper tooth of the calyx much enlarged. In this section Spica the bracts are uniform, all subtending flowers, and the corolla is markedly two-lipped and longer than the calyx. In the section Stoechas the uppermost bracts are sterile and form a conspicuous tuft known as the ‘coma’; the corolla-lobes are more or less equal; and the corolla-tube is not much longer than the calyx.
The genus ranges from the Atlantic islands through the Mediterranean to the Near East, India, and N.E. tropical Africa.