A crop-like dilatation of the gut and a recurved intestine, embedded in the compact yellowish-brown liver, the ducts of which open into it, form the rest of the digestive tract and occupy a large bulk of the visceral hump. The buccal region presents a pair of shelly jaws placed laterally upon the lips, and a wide range of variation in the form of the denticles of the lingual ribbon or radula.
Its integument is marked by a large number of transverse grooves simulating the segmentation of Annelids, and near the anterior extremity close to the mouth are two pairs of recurved chitinous hooks.
The proboscis bears rings of recurved hooks arranged in horizontal rows, and it is by means of these hooks that the animal attaches itself to the tissues of its host.
These horns, which are of a more or less conical form and usually recurved, and often grow to a great length (three or even four feet), are composed of a solid mass of hardened epidermic cells growing from a cluster of long dermal papillae.
Of the Old World; it has a short creeping rhizome, from which springs a slender, herbaceous or woody, often very much branched, erect or climbing stem, the ultimate branches of which are flattened or needle-like leaf-like structures (cladodes), the true leaves being reduced to scales or, in the climbers, forming short, hard more or less recurved spines.