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Suffrutiscent perennial herbs or shrubs. Leaves simple, opposite, lineolate, usually entire, or obscurely crenulate. Flowers in terminal or axillary, dense spikes, blue, purple, violet or purplish-white. Bracts longer than the calyx, bracteoles linear-lanceolate. Calyx deeply 5-lobed, lobes equal, often scarious. Corolla tube cylindrical, 5-lobed, lobes usually equal. Stamens 4, included, 2 fertile, staminodes 2, small, shortly connate to filaments, sometimes absent. Ovary 4-ovuled, style long, sparsely hairy, stigma simple or slightly bifid. Capsules 4-seeded, oblong-clavate, with solid stipe-like basal part. Seeds compressed, discoid, retinacula sharp. 

Key to the species

Serial Key Reference
1a. Bracts inconspicuous, sublinear 2
1b. Bracts distinctly prominent, linear to foliaceous 3
2a. Stem woody; flowers white E. album
2b. Stem herbaceous; flowers purple E. palatiferum
3a. Bracts white with green nerves 4
3b. Bracts green, rarely whitish when old, nerves concolorous 5
4a. Bracts obovate, cuspidate, margin ciliate; spikes subinterruped in elongate panicles, often solitary E. roseum
4b. Bracts elliptic-ovate, obtuse-mucronate, entire; spikes in a close panicle E. pulchellum
5a. Spikes linear, interrupted, forming a large terminal panicle 7
5b. Spikes oblong, very dense 6
6a. Bracts ovate-lanceolate, margin ciliate E. purpurescens
6b. Bracts ovate-lanceolate, margin entire E. splendens
7a. Flowers blue; stamens and stigma not far exserted from corolla tube E. strictum
7b. Flowers pink; stamens and stigma far exserted from corolla tube E. macrophyllum