The small genus of about 14 species is enhanced by a large number of cultivars. Lungworts are so called because they were thought to be a cure for lung diseases simply on the basis that their spotted leaves looked like the inside of an unhealthy lung. They are now grown for their foliage and flowers rather than for medical reasons. The plants are low growing perennials, some deciduous and others evergreen.
The leaves are a long oval shape and are often covered in rough bristles or hairs. The colour varies from light green to dark green, often with silver spots or other markings. The flowers are funnel-shaped and held in small clusters. Colours vary from dark and light blues through white, pink and even red, often with more than one colour on the same flower: many open red or pink and change to blue as they age. Lungworts flower in spring so their season is short but if, after flowering, the foliage is sheared off they produce a new crop of leaves, allowing them to be used as attractive foliage plants for the rest of the year. Grow in light shade or keep the soil moist if planted in full sun. They prefer a typical, leafy, moist woodland soil.