Glabrous, glaucous or subglaucous, usually perennial herbs, erect to diffuse, often with a whorl of radical leaves and none to many cauline leaves; rootstock rhizomatous, tuberous or bulbous. Leaves (1-) 2-3(-4)-ternate, basal petiolate with usually sheathing bases. Racemes bracteate and terminal, simple and branched, often elongating in fruit and becoming lax. Flowers zygomorphic with the upper petal only spurred, mostly yellow or purplish (pink or bluish violet), rarely white or blue. Sepals 2, small, scarious or white-membranous, caducous. Petals 4; outer 2 dissimilar, upper (posterior) spurred or gibbous at the base or below, lower (anterior) flat or concave (subsaccate) at the base, smaller and ± equalling the lamina of the upper petal, both often winged at the back and margin expanded ; 2 inner narrower, about as long as the lower petal, sometimes clawed and cohering at the tip. Stamens 2, each 3-partite (sometimes referred as 6, diadelphous) and with dimorphous anthers (mid anthers dithecous and laterals monothecous); upper (posterior) one usually with a basal tail enclosed in the petal spur. Ovary 1-celled, usually many ovuled; style filiform with 2, often dilated stigmas, becoming curved at the tip at a later stage. Capsule ovoid, oblong, elliptic or linear, dehiscing by ± membranous, slightly to conspicuously tumid or inflated valves, falling when ripe and leaving the seed bearing placenta attached to the style; seed suborbicular or reniform, usually shining black and arillate.