Herbs, annual or perennial, often cespitose, rosulate. Roots: larger roots unbranched, pale, septate, thickened, spongy. Stems rarely sparingly branched, short or elongate. Leaves many ranked in flat or high spiral; blade basally pale, distally greener, linear-attenuate or triangular-acuminate, lingulate, narrowing gradually or abruptly from base, base noticeably lacunate, less distinctly so distally. Inflorescences: scape sheaths tubular, orifice oblique (often 2--3-cleft); scapes 1--several per rosette, glabrous; heads pale to dark, white, gray, or gray-brown, hemispheric to globose or short-cylindric; receptacle hairy or glabrous; involucral bracts obscured or not obscured by inflorescence, pale to dark, chaffy or scarious; receptacular bracts narrower, thinner than involucral bracts, often scarious. Flowers mostly with staminate and pistillate on same plants, 2--3-merous; sepals 2(--3), adnate to stipelike base, boat-shaped, scarious, apex often covered with multicellular hairs, hairs mealy white or translucent, frequently club-shaped; petals 2(--3), narrower, shorter than sepals, apex hairy, hairs club-shaped, glands adaxial, subapical, dark, rarely pale. Staminate flowers: androphore apically dilated stalk; petals separated from sepals by androphore, diverging as lobes from apex; stamens 3--4 or 6, 2--3 alternating with petals; apex of staminal column with 2--3 glands, glands unappendaged; filaments arising from androphore rim; anthers 2-locular, 4-sporangiate, dorsifixed, usually versatile, well exserted at anthesis, jet black (except in E. cinereum). Pistillate flowers: gynophore separating petals from sepals, stipelike; pistil 2(--3)-carpellate; style 1, unappendaged, style branches 2(--3).