David Wood revised the genus in 1974 and recognized 77 species in three sections: Chirita, Gibbosaccus, and Microchirita. In the 1980s onwards the number of species being described increased rapidly, mostly from southern China and mostly in the section Gibbosaccus. Most of these species were included in the account of the Gesneriaceae in the Flora of China (Wang et al. 1998).
There have also been problems in the delimitation of species, most notably when Olive Hilliard resurrected a fourth section, Chirita sect. Liebigia, and revised the species within it (Hilliard 2004). Whereas Wood had recognized only one species in this group, Chirita asperifolia, Hilliard divided it into 12 species! Conversely, it is likely that some of the new species described from southern China in recent years may prove to be synonyms of already known species when they are critically revised.
It has long been recognized that Chirita is a rather heterogeneous assemblage of species united by a single character, the shape of the stigma. In Chirita the upper lobe of the stigma is not developed and the lower lobe is nearly always bifid. In other characters the species range from very small herbs to subshrubs, rather fleshy annuals to woody perennials, and terrestrial plants of the forest floor to plants growing in the fissures of limestone rocks.The flowers may be only a few millimeters to several centimeters long and the corolla may be white, yellow, orange, pink, blue, purple, or sometimes combinations of these colors.