Herbs or subshrubs, annual or usually perennial, yellow-green, green, or occasionally reddish, 1-6 dm, glaucous. Stems decumbent to erect, straw colored, branched, often woody at base, often with exfoliations; branches usually ascending. Leaves ascending, imbricate; blade green or reddish, linear-lanceolate, adaxial surface flat, 10-60 × 0.5-2.5 mm, base not narrowed, apex acute; proximal leaves usually withered, persistent or breaking apart into fibers, straw colored. Glomes in dense, mostly (2-)5-20 cm compound spikes; (1-)3-5-flowered; bracts smaller than leaves, 5-20 mm, usually widest at base. Flowers bisexual; perianth zygomorphic or irregular (one segment usually larger), 1.5-3(-3.5) mm diam.; perianth segments abaxially rounded and keeled and distally hooded; stigmas (2-)3. Seeds dimorphic; lenticular, 1-1.3 mm diam., with seed coat black to reddish brown, obscurely reticulate, shiny; or flat, 1.2-2 mm, with seed coat brown, dull. Flowering late summer-fall. Coastal salt marshes; 1-2 m; Calif.; Mexico (Baja California).