Low, mostly dioecious subshrub to 50 cm high. Stems prostrate to usually decumbent with gray-scurfy foliage. Leaves short-petiolate; the blades linear to spatulate, 5–40 mm long with entire margins, the lowest sometimes opposite. Inflorescence glomerules in terminal spikes or dense panicles. Male flowers yellow or brown, 5-parted. Female flowers lacking a calyx; pistillate bracts united above the middle. Mature pistillate bracts lanceolate to orbicular, 2–5 mm long with toothed or winged margins and facial tubercles.(Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX)
While some recognize three varieties (Welsh 2003 in Fl. N. Amer. Vol. 4), Lesica (2012) reports that few specimens in MT can be confidently placed amongst the varieties and that they show little ecological distinction.
Fine-textured, saline soils of stream terraces, badlands, steppe, grasslands; plains, valleys, montane (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX)