Stem 50–150 cm tall, rigid, 2–4 (–6) mm in diam.; leaves (10–) 30–80 (–120) cm long, 1.5–4 mm in diam. Inflorescence 5–15 × 3–7 cm, usually dense, almost sphaerical, rarely lax, elongated or wide, with (10–) 50–100 (–200) heads. Tepals (2.8–) 3.5–4 (–4.5) mm long, usually equal, oblong, with broad hyaline margins; outer tepals slightly cymbiform, basally ±keeled, obtuse, with a mucro up to 0.3 mm long. Anthers 1.5–1.8 (–2.0) mm, 2.5–4 times as long as filaments; style 0.5–0.8 mm long; stigmas 1.5–2 mm long. Capsule 4–6 mm long, spheroidal to ovoid, conical above, glossy, stramineous to dark brown, triseptate; mucro very short. Seeds 0.8–1.1 mm long, or 1.8–2.5 mm long including appendages. 2n = 48, fide Snogerup, Willdenowia 23: 37 (1993).
Coasts of W Europe, Mediterranean, Near East, Black Sea and S Caspian area. Introduced to Australia and New Zealand. 10: GRB, IRE. 12: BAL, COR, FRA, POR, SAR, SPA. 13: ALB, GRC, ITA, KRI, SIC, TUE, YUC. 20: ALG, EGY, LBY, MOR, TUN. 32: TKM. 33: TCS. 34: CYP, EAI, IRN, IRQ, LBS, PAL, SIN, TUR. 35: KUW. 50: nsw, soa, vic, wau. 51: nzn.
10. GREAT BRITAIN: England, Norfolk, Burnham Overy, A.C.Jermy & G.Simmons 535 (BM). 12. FRANCE: Bouches-du-Rhône, Les Stes Maries, S.Snogerup 360 (LD). CORSE: Ajaccio, H.Roessler 3557 (M). 13. GREECE: Kerkyra, S.Snogerup 23608 (LD). 20. ALGERIA: between Boufakir and Kolea, P.H.Davis 59506 (E, BM). EGYPT: El Dikheila, M.N.El Hadidi s.n. (LD). 34. IRAN: Nov-Char, Sabeti 111 (W). JORDAN: Azraq, V.Täckholm 9088 (CAI, K). TURKEY: Istanbul, Catalca, Tutel & Delice 32935 (ISTF). 50. NEW SOUTH WALES: Clyde R., Nelligen, E.F.Constable 43125 (UC). 51. NORTH ISLAND: Papuke turnoff at head of Whangaroa inlet, R.Melville 5346, 12 Nov 1961 (NSW).
Sandy habitats, including sand dunes, salt marshes, rarely freshwater marshes, almost always at the sea coast.