Dwarf herbs. Leaves in basal rosette. Inflorescence terminal, simple or divided, narrow spikes, on slender bract-covered peduncles; bracts ovate, closely wrapped around peduncle, with membranous margin fringed with woolly hairs; bracteoles 2. Calyx subirregular; lobes 5; tube shorter than lobes. Corolla 2-lipped, with 1 lip shortly 2-lobed; lobes oblong or ovate, imbricate in bud; tube longer than lobes. Androecium: fertile stamens 2, arising in corolla throat; filaments short; anthers 2-thecous, with a terminal projection; thecae parallel, with minute tails or muticous; staminodes 0. Pollen spheroidal; 3-colpate; surface with shallow reticulations. Disc annular. Gynoecium: ovary +/- ellipsoid, with several ovules in each locule; style linear; style branches 2, equal, cylindriform. Capsule slightly beaked, estipitate; with inelastic placental bases; retinacula 0. Seeds minute, ovoid, reticulate, minutely papillose. x = 11, 12 (10, 23) (polyploidy).
Species +/- 7, Africa, Asia and America; 1 in sthn Afr.: Elytrariaacaulis (L.f.) Lindau, Botswana and Northern Province.