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A genus of about thirty species of deciduous shrubs native of the Himalaya, Japan, and China. They belong to the madder family, which is very meagrely represented in the open with us (save by the native bedstraws and woodruffs, etc.). They have opposite, entire leaves with persistent stipules. The flowers are borne in clusters on the growing shoots, each enclosed at the base in an involucre made up of two united bracteoles. The corolla is tubular or slenderly funnel-shaped, with usually five lobes. Stamens borne in the throat of the corolla, equal in number to the lobes. The ovary is inferior, bearing a single style, dividing at the top into five linear arms. Fruit a capsule, splitting into five valves, but the inner wall of the valves remaining closed and enveloping each seed in a loose or appressed fibrous coat. The flowers in Leptodermis are usually dimorphic, the functionally female flowers having the style exserted and the stamens included in the corolla-tube, while in the functionally male flowers the style is included and the anthers exserted.

The cultivated species are sun-lovers, being often found wild in dry stony places. Propagation is by cuttings.

Species articles