Erect to spreading to decumbent, perennial herb, to 50 cm tall. Young stem subquadrate to subhexagonal, pubescent in 1 row. Petiole to 15 mm long; blade ovate to lanceolate 4-12 x 0.5-2.5 cm, acuminate to acuminate-attenuate at apex, base acute, glabrous on both surfaces or primary vein pubescent, margin entire to subsinuate. Inflorescence a terminal (sometimes also axillary in distalmost pair of leaves) pedunculate panicle of dichasiate spikes, panicle 5-16 x 6 cm, axillary panicles alternate, 1 per axil; peduncle to 5 cm long, pubescent like young stems; rachis glandular pubescent; inflorescence bracts often subfoliose, lance-subulate to subulate, 2-21 x 0.3-1.5 mm; inflorescence branches alternate or opposite, rachises of spikes glandular puberulent; dichasia alternate or opposite, 1-flowered, 1 per axil, sessile; bracts opposite, subulate, 1.3-2.2 x 0.3-0.4 mm, glandular-puberulent; bracteoles similar to bracts but smaller. Flowers sessile to subsessile; calyx 2-3.5 mm long, glandular-puberulent, 4 lobes subulate, equal, 1.5-3 x 0.3-0.5 mm, posterior 5th lobe 0.6-1.5 x 0.2 mm; corolla white to rose-pink with white and/or maroon markings on lower lip, 7.5-10 mm long, pubescent, tube ± expanded distally, 3.5-5.7 mm long, 1.2-1.4 mm in diam. near midpoint, upper lip 2.5-4 mm long, entire, lower lip 3-4.5 mm long, lobes 0.8-1.5 x 1-2.5 mm; stamens exserted ca. 1-1.5 mm beyond mouth of corolla tube, anther thecae 0.6-0.9 mm long, unequal, subparallel to parallel, equally to subequally inserted, separated by a ± broad connective, lacking basal appendages (although sometimes ± apiculate at base); style 4.5-7 mm long, sparsely pubescent, stigma linear, 0.3-0.5 mm long, lobes not evident. Capsule 5.5-9 mm long, pubescent, stipe 2-3.5 mm long, body subellipsoid with medial constriction, 3.5-5.5 mm long; seeds 4, lenticular, 1.2-1.8 x 1.2-1.5 mm, surface and margin covered with prominent knoblike tubercles.
Guianas present, S Mexico present, Southern America: Paraguay (Paraguay present)
Ranging from S Mexico, the West Indies southward to Paraguay; 258 collections studied of which 23 from the Guianas (GU: 10; SU: 7; FG: 6).
Reported to have numerous medicinal, hallucinogenic and economic uses throughout its wide range. The sweetly fragrant dried leaves are pulverized by some South American Indians and are added to their Virola-based hallucinogenic snuff. It is suspected that it is employed as a flavoring rather than a hallucinogenic agent.