Shrubs, glabrous. Stems apparently jointed and fleshy when young, becoming woody and not jointed, not armed; some stems terminated by an inflorescences, others entirely vegetative. Leaves opposite, united at base, petiolate, decurrent forming fleshy joints (sterile segments) fleshy on stem, fleshy; eventually deciduous; blade fleshy triangular projections at tips of joints, edges with narrow scarious margins. Inflorescences terminal and lateral, spikelike, apparently jointed, each joint (fertile segment) consisting of 2 opposite, axillary, 3(-5)-flowered cymes embedded in and adnate to fleshy tissue of distal internode; flowers in each cyme arranged in transverse rows, central flower separating lateral flowers, slightly larger; flowers in each cyme partially separated by flaps of tissue which persist on stem when flowers have fallen. Flowers bisexual or unisexual, ± radially symmetric; perianth segments persistent in fruit, 3-4, united except at tip, fleshy; stamens 1-2; styles 2-3. Fruits utriclelike, ellipsoid; pericarp membranous. Seeds vertical, ellipsoid; seed coat light brown, membranous, pubescent; hairs strongly curved or hooked and slender, or conic, straight or slightly curved; perisperm absent. x = 9.
Fertile segments aggregated into spikes at ends of stem and lateral branches.
Perennial herbs or shrubs, glabrous, seemingly leafless, apparently built up of numerous, superposed, more or less tubular segments succulent and usually green or greenish to reddish, ultimately shrivelling and falling away from the stem; each segment at apex forming a little cup, usually with two short teeth or lobes, embracing the base of the next higher segment.
Perianth minutely and irregularly 3-lobed at apex, or more usually on a truncate flattened lateral shield.
Spikes persistent or breaking up irregularly, not regularly disarticulating.
Flowers minute 3 (7–12) together in a cluster (cymule), a pair of clusters to each fertile segment, the clusters on opposite sides and flush with the segments.
Seeds with soft membranous testa, minutely hairy or papillose.
Embryo folded so that radicle and cotyledonous point downwards.
|Samphire, glasswort, saltwort [Greek sarco, fleshy, and Latin cornis, horned, in reference to the appearance of the plants]|