A family of dicotyledonous (see dicotyledon) herbs, with a few shrubs and trees. It shows great variation, but all its members have more or less irregular flowers, usually distinctly 2-lipped, or sometimes with flat corollas and 4 unequal lobes (e.g. Veronica). There are usually 4 stamens, rarely 5 (e.g. Verbascum and Penstemon), or sometimes only 2 (e.g. Veronica). The ovary is distinctive. It is superior, of 2 cells joined together, with axile placentation and a terminal style that is simple or bilobed. The fruit is normally a capsule, rarely a berry, and the seeds are numerous in each capsule cell. Genera such as Antirrhinum, Calceolaria, Digitalis, Mimulus, Verbascum, and Veronica have flowers attractive enough to be garden favourites, and Digitalis (foxglove) is the source of an important heart stimulant, but otherwise the family is of little economic importance. There are 222 genera, with about 4500 species, of cosmopolitan distribution.
Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry.