Perennial herbs (few annuals), shrubs, vines or small trees, latex mostly lacking; leaves mostly alternate; heads one to many, homogamous; involucre with bracts subequal to gradate, inner persistent or deciduous, without hyaline margins; receptacles rarely paleate, with or without hairs; corollas mostly blue to reddish or purple, actinomorphic (rarely zygomorphic), 5-lobed (rarely with lobes grouped as four outer and one inner), lobes elongate; anther apical appendage oblong-ovate, thecae usually spurred, often tailed; pollen spherical, mostly 35–70 μm in diameter in medium, not caveate, usually sublophate or lophate, often with perforated tectum partially or totally missing; style branches spreading tangentially, slender and tapering, with long sweeping hairs on outer surface extending onto upper part of style shaft; achenes usually prismatic with 5–10 ribs, sometimes obcompressed, rarely winged; pappus usually capillary, often with short outer series, sometimes coroniform or lacking.

Diagnostic Features

Alternate leaves with pinnate ve- nation, often with T-shaped or stellate hairs; heads with- out rays; corollas mostly blue to reddish or purple; slender tapering style branches, long sweeping hairs on outside extending onto upper style shaft; achenes usually with twin hairs, rarely with phytomelanin in walls, usually with raphids; pollen sublophate or lophate; and anther endothecial cells with thickenings on upper and lower ends; rich in sesquiterpene lactones, one group with 5-alkyl-coumarins.

Geographic distribution

Tropical and southern Africa, southeast Asia to Australia and the Pacific, and the Western Hemisphere.