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A deciduous shrub of lax habit, 6 to 9 ft high, more in diameter, making a dense thicket of stems, arching and spreading at the top; twigs angular, whitish, spine-tipped, usually glabrous. Leaves alternate, linear, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. long, 1⁄16 to 1⁄8 in. wide, grey, rather fleshy, stalkless. Flowers small, greenish, unisexual; males crowded in a spike 1⁄2 to 1 in. long at the end of short lateral twigs, females appearing singly in the axils of the lower leaves of the same twig. Neither has any beauty, but they are interesting botanically. The male flower has neither calyx nor corolla, the stamens, about three in number, being arranged at the base of curious cup-like scales. The female flower is also without a corolla, but has a calyx which persists and enlarges and ultimately develops into a thin, papery disk, prominently veined, 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 in. across, with the seeds in the middle.
Native of the dry, alkaline, and saline regions of western N. America; introduced to Kew in 1896 but is no longer there. Like other shrubs from the same regions, it thrives quite well in ordinary garden soil. It flowers in July, but, as may be judged from the description, is of more botanical than horticultural interest.