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The species include herbaceous plants and shrubs growing to 0.5–2 m (1.6–6.6 ft) tall. The leaves are spirally arranged, simple, entire, 0.5–12 cm (0.20–4.72 in) long, with a tapered base and often with a hairy margin. The flowers are white, blue, purple, red, or pink, with a tubular corolla with five petal-like lobes; they are produced in racemes. The flower calyx has glandular trichomes (hairs), which secrete a sticky mucilage that is capable of trapping and killing insects; it is unclear what the purpose of these trichomes is; protection from pollination by way of "crawlers" (ants and other insects that typically do not transfer pollen between individual plants), or possible protocarnivory. Mature plumbago leaves often have a whitish residue on their undersides, a feature that can confuse gardeners. While this white material resembles a powdery mildew disease or a chemical spray deposit, it is actually a natural exudate from "chalk" glands that are found on the Plumbago species