Herbs, shrubs, lianas, epiphytes or trees, without latex; leaves alternate sometimes rosulate (rarely opposite); heads radiate, disciform or discoid, of various sizes; involucre calyculate or ecalyculate, bracts uniseriate and subequal or sometimes in two or more series; recep- tacle naked or fimbriate, denticulate or hairy; ray florets female, fertile (rarely sterile), corolla yellow or orange, white, pink, purple, red or blue; disc florets perfect or functionally male, corolla tubular or with a campanulate 4- or 5-lobed limb; anthers four or five, apical append- age flat, thecae basally obtuse to sagittate or caudate, endothecial tissue radial (Othonninae and Senecioninae) or polarized (Tussilagininae), filament collar baluster- form (Othonninae and Senecioninae) or cylindrical and straight (Tussilagininae); pollen echinate, caveate, exine with columellae solid (rarely with internal foramina); style bifurcate or simple, sweeping hairs in apical tuft or distributed abaxially on style branches, branches apically truncate or obtuse to conical, sometimes with tuft, pen- cil, or appendage; achenes terete or flattened, sometimes ribbed, winged or angled; pappus of barbellate bristles, rarely a single scale, sometimes absent, white or straw- colored, red or purple.

Diagnostic Features

Uniseriate involucre (although not universal); di-ester type pyrrolizidine alkaloids and the eremophilane types of sesquiterpene lactones; polyacety- lenes lacking; raphids not in walls of achenes, but in ovules; in Senecio and many other genera of Senecioninae the stigmatic surface is divided into two parallel bands, but most members of Tussilagininae have a continuous stigmatic surface.

Geographic distribution

Worldwide with the most marked center of diversity in South Africa, also with centers in Central America, the Andes (Peru to Colombia), and Southeast Asia.