Dwarf shrubs with thick roots, short sterile shoots at the base and longer flowering shoots. Stems ± thickly and softly hairy. Leaves alternate, rigid, subulate to acicular, flattened at the base, terete towards the apex, with a strong, clear, main vein; leaves gradually transformed into bracts. Bracteoles absent. Flowers solitary, mostly conferted in short pseudo-spikes, hermaphrodite or female. Perianth segments 4, united to above the middle, the free points ± equal, or two opposite segments longer, hairy or glabrous at the base, membranous with a green apex. Stamens 4. Styles 2-3, long, filiform with cylindrical papillae. Fruit adpressed, obovate or elongate, erect. Embryo green, hook-shaped to nearly circular.
1-Plant smelling of camphor; larger spikes of the inflorescence 4-10 mm in diam; perianth less densely hairy near the base, two opposite segments larger, bent outwards; seed 1,5-2 mm subsp. monspeliaca
1-Plant usually not smelling of camphor; spikes 2-4 mm in diam; whole perianth hairy, with 4 almost equal segments which are not bent outwards; seed c. 1 mm subsp. lessingii