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Erect or diffuse, occasionally armed herbs. Leaves opposite, sessile or subsessile, entire or irregularly wavy. Flowers sessile, in axillary cymose fascicles or terminal dense heads or spikes, bluish-purple or white. Bracts leafy, elliptic or linear-lanceolate, bracteoles linear-subulate. Calyx tubular, 4-5 lobed. Corolla distinctly or indistinctly 2-lipped, 5-lobed. Stamens 4, didynamous, filaments glabrous, anthers dithecous. Ovary 2-locular, ovules few to many in each locule, style filiform, hairy, stigma simple. Capsules oblong-cylindric, not stipitate. Seeds compressed, with hygroscopic white hairs, oblique-ovate or orbicular, retinacula hook-like.

Key to the species

Serial Key Reference
1a. Plants armed with prominent spines; calyx 4-partite; capsule 4-8 seeded H. schulli
1b. Plants unarmed; calyx 5-partite; capsule more than 8-seeded 2
2a. Prostrate or ascending herbs with flowers in terminal spikes; leaves small H. polysperma
2b. Erect herbs with flowers in axillary whorls; leaves rather large 3
3a. Leaf blade glabrous or scabrous-hirsute H. ringens
3b. Leaf blade densely strigose or hirsute on both surfaces 4
4a. Calyx ca. 0.7 cm long; corolla ca. 1.5 cm long H. erecta
4b. Calyx ca. 1.1 cm long; corolla 1.8-2.2 cm long H. phlomoides