plants consist of more than 230 species that are largely distributed in the Sino-Himalayan region and the Western Pacific islands. species are being used in traditional medicine worldwide to treat various ailments such as cough, rheumatic pain, scorpion stings, sores, burns and scalds, intestinal fever, pain, specifically breast pain during child birth, to increase milk flow, as an antiparasitic, anthelmintic, and carminative. A deep look in the literature has revealed that species have been poorly investigated for their food preservative applications and and biological and phytochemical studies. However, some species have demonstrated antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiproliferative and anti-HIV potential. (Doll.) Ching is the most investigated species and the biological activities of their extracts, such as they antioxidant properties, seem to be related to the sulfate contents of their polysaccharides. This review provides an update on the ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry and biological properties of plants that might be useful for further research. Of course, well-designed clinical trials will be required for some species to be used as therapy.