These are hardy plants that make excellent ground cover in a shady spot. They are also grown for their clusters of tiny, scented flowers and subsequent berries.
There are 28 species, all deciduous, which are native to the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, where they grow in moist woodland conditions.
They grow best in part- or full shade, with a humus-rich, but free-draining soil. Drought and excessive heat will not be tolerated.