This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
A very small European, North African, and Central Asiatic family, with one Mexican genus. Mostly shrubs, with alternate leaves, and ovules and seeds inserted on 3 distinct placentas, arising from the base of the cavity of the ovary. Seeds plumose.
A cypress-like shrub, 1-1 1/2 yard high, with slender branches in bundles. Leaves very small, close together, in the form of needle-shaped scales. Flowers pale pink, in a long terminal spike. Sepals and petals 5, rarely 4, free, surrounding the ripe fruit. Stamens 10, welded into a tube at the base. Capsule many seeded. Seeds with a shortly stalked plume.
River beds and sandy sides of torrents; local. June, July.
In the Alps it ascends to about 5000 feet, generally in the debris of glacier streams, as in the Val Ferret above Pras de Fort, the Trient Valley below Trient village, and the bed of the Arve about Argentiere.
Alps, Pyrenees, Corbieres, Alsace, East and South of France, Switzerland, Europe, Western Asia.
Very probably it has the faculty of preventing the sand and gravel of rivers being washed away, like Hippophae Rhamnoides, with which it sometimes grows.