Shrubs or small trees. Leaves simple, opposite ternate or in dense pseudowhorls of 3–7, rarely in spirals; margins entire or less often toothed; stipules absent or rarely in a ring. Inflorescences consisting of spikes, thyrses, cymes, heads or solitary flowers; bracteoles present, as long as calyx, sometimes 2-lipped. Flowers often small, bisexual; regular to irregular; (4–)5(–7)-merous. Corolla with more or less equal lobes, with a funnel-shaped or cylindrical tube. Petals fused, imbricate, persistent. Stamens equal to and opposite sepals. Ovary superior; carpels fused, 2-locular, apically 1-locular, with 1–3(–many in Nuxia) ovules per carpel. Fruit usually a loculicidal capsule or sometimes septicidal, or a berry (Halleria).
Stilbaceae was previously included in Scrophulariaceae. This treatment follows Stevens, P.F. (2018, Angiosperm Phylogeny Website).
About 12 genera and c. 40 species, in Africa (from the Cape Province to tropical regions), Madagascar, Mascarenes and Arabia.
Rarely cultivated species Bowkeria verticillata (Eckl. & Zeyher) Schinz is a shrub from S Africa with leaves mostly in whorls of 3 and white, fragrant flowers from spring to summer.
Created by: Val Stajsic
Updated by: Val Stajsic, April 2018