Seeds (in our species) with a hard crustaceous testa, smooth.
Perianth minutely and irregularly 3-lobed at apex (with us), never with a truncate lateral shield.
Flowers minute, usually (always in our species) in clusters (cymules) of 3, a pair of opposite clusters to each fertile segment, which consists of two normally fused bracts.
Fertile segments aggregated into spikes at ends of stem and lateral branches.
Spikes (in our species) ultimately disarticulating into rings, in others sometimes persistent.
Shrubs, usually thinly woody, low, glabrous, seemingly leafless, apparently built up of numerous, superposed, more or less tubular segments which are green or glaucous and ultimately shrivel and fall away from the stem; each segment at apex forming a little cup usually with two short teeth or lobes and embracing the base of the next higher segment.