Habit and leaf form. Shrubs, or herbs. Plants succulent (when fresh); prickly. The spines foliar. Annual. Leaves cauline (ass.). Plants with a basal concentration of leaves, or with neither basal nor terminal concentrations of leaves. Stems not ‘jointed’. To 0.6 m high. Grows in somewhat saline habitats. Leaves minute to large; alternate; spiral, or distichous; fleshy and modified into spines; sessile; sheathing, or non-sheathing; simple; epulvinate. Leaf blades entire; solid; semi-terete; linear (narrow-linear or linear-subulate); decurrent, broad, stem- clasping. Leaves without stipules. Leaf blade margins entire. Leaves without a persistent basal meristem. Leaf anatomy. Hydathodes present, or absent. Hairs present, or absent (hispid or verrucose).
Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite.
Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers solitary (usually), or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in spikes (open or condensed). The terminal inflorescence unit cymose. Inflorescences axillary. Flowers bracteate (1 subtending each flower), or ebracteate; bracteolate (2, opposite, spinescent, equal to or exceeding length of flowers, similar to foliage leaves or much broader at base); minute, or small; regular; cyclic. Hypogynous disk present, or absent. Perianth sepaline; (4–)5; 1 -whorled; joined (imbricate); fleshy, or non-fleshy; persistent; accrescent, or non-accrescent. Calyx present; not replaced by accrescent bracteoles; 5; polysepalous, or gamosepalous; imbricate; non-fleshy; persistent (in the fruit); accrescent. The fruiting calyx not berrylike; winged. Sepals oblong. Calyx lobes oblong. Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 5. Androecial members free of the perianth, or adnate (to the base of the perianth); all equal (ass.); free of one another (ass.); 1 -whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 5; all more or less similar in shape (ass.); isomerous with the perianth; alternisepalous (and to outer surface of an annular or shallowly cup-shaped disc). Filaments appendiculate (sometimes scarious or bladder-shaped). Anthers bent inwards in bud; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; tetrasporangiate. Gynoecium (2–)5 carpelled. The pistil 1 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synovarious to synstylovarious; superior. Ovary unilocular; 1 locular; sessile (ass.). Gynoecium non-stylate, or stylate. Styles 1 (or 2–3); partially joined; apical. Stigmas 2. Placentation basal. Ovules in the single cavity 1; pendulous, or ascending; non-arillate; campylotropous.
Fruit and seed features. Fruit non-fleshy (pericarp membranous); indehiscent; capsular-indehiscent (a utricle, hemispherical, truncate above; fruiting perianth encloses fruit, scarious or rigid, with 5 transverse scarious wings or without wings or with protruberances); 1 celled. Gynoecia of adjoining flowers combining to form a multiple fruit, or not forming a multiple fruit. Fruit 1 seeded. Seeds more or less non-endospermic. Perisperm absent. Cotyledons 2. Embryo coiled (in a conic spiral).
Etymology. From the Latin for "salted"; some species grow in salty ground.