Height 5-25 cm, the basal leaves usually withered in fruit. Leaves ± linear, 20-40 x 1-3 mm. Inflorescence densely globular. Bracts ovate, membranous, with a broad green mid-nerve, acuminate, setose on margins and nerves, slightly webbed. Flowers pale, bluish, lilac or pinkish, rarely white. Fruit overall 3-5 x 2-4 mm, calyx usually with 6 lobes, each with a strong hook at the apex. Fl. 5-7. Rocky slopes, open woodlands, fields and roadsides, 300-1800 m.
N. Africa, most of S. & C. Europe; S.W. Asia, eastwards to Tien Shan.