Subshrubs, dioecious, clump forming, mainly 2-8 dm and as wide, woody at base. Stems stiffly erect; branchlets terete. Leaves tardily deciduous, alternate or proximal-most subopposite, shortly petiolate; blade gray green, oblong-ovate to elliptic or orbiculate, 8-30(-35) × 6-20 mm, margin entire or rarely dentate, apex rounded to retuse or obtuse. Staminate flowers yellow, in clusters 2-3 mm wide, borne in panicles 6-30 cm. Pistillate flowers in small, very numerous glomerules in axils of elongated, terminal leafy-bracteate spikes or finally paniculate. Fruiting bracteoles sessile or substipitate, 4-5 × 5-9 mm, base broadly cuneate, margin sharply toothed, apical tooth subtended by 2-6 equal or smaller teeth, faces smooth or rarely tuberculate. Seeds brown, 2.4-2.8 mm.
Flowering summer-fall. Fine-textured substrates, with salt desert shrub and lower pinyon-juniper communities; 1500-2000 m; Ariz., Colo., N.Mex., Tex., Utah; Mexico.