Herbs or shrubs, usually strongly scented with aromatic oils. Stems nearly always quadrangular. Leaves opposite or whorled, without stipules. Inflorescence simple or compound, axillary or terminal. Flowers solitary or in opposite cymes which are frequently reduced to clusters (false whorls) in the axils of the leaves or floral bracts. Flowers usually irregular and bisexual. Calyx tubular, persistent, 5–10-toothed or 2-lipped. Corolla tubular, 4–5-lobed, often 2-lipped with the upper lip 2-lobed and the lower lip 3-lobed. Stamens 4 in pairs of unequal length or 2 reduced to staminodes or 2 only. Nectiferous disc often present between stamens and ovary. Ovary superior, entire or deeply 4-lobed, with basal placentas; style gynobasic or terminal 2–4-fid. Ovules 4. Fruit a drupe or schizocarp splitting into two 2-seeded or four 1-seeded articles (or fewer by abortion), often enclosed in the persistent calyx. 236 gen., cosmop.