Herbs, annual, ± densely pubescent. Stems erect, semierect, ascending, or prostrate, branched or simple, not jointed, not armed, not fleshy. Leaves alternate, sessile (or sometimes narrowed to pseudopetiole); blade linear, lanceolate, or lanceolate-elliptic, flat or semiterete (semicylindric in transverse section; ± fleshy), base cuneate, margins entire, apex obtuse to acute. Inflorescences terminal spikes, flowers [1–]2–3 in axils. Flowers bisexual, sessile, ebracteolate; perianth segments 5, ± hirsute or pubescent, rarely glabrous, at maturity with spiniform, hooked, or conic appendages; stamens 5; styles and stigmas 2(–3). Fruiting structures: fruiting bracts absent; achenes ovate-compressed; pericarp free, membranous. Seeds horizontal, lenticular; seed coat brownish, smooth; embryo annular; perisperm copious. x = 9.
Introduced; Asia, Europe, Africa.
Species ca. 10 (2 in the flora).
Bassia occurs primarily in steppe and desert zones. A. J. Scott (1978) circumscribed Bassia in a very broad sense, including Kochia and some other genera. Only one section of Kochia is somewhat transitional towards Bassia (see comments in the treatment of Kochia). The present treatment follows the traditional concepts of Bassia and Kochia.
|1||Leaf blades flat, lanceolate-elliptic, lanceolate, or linear; all perianth segments at maturity with thin, hooked spine adaxially; inflorescence axis ± straight||Bassia hyssopifolia|
|1||Leaf blades semiterete, linear or filiform; (2-)3(-4) perianth segments at maturity with conic nonhooked appendages adaxially, other segments ± unappendaged; inflorescence axis flex- uous||Bassia hirsuta|