Both bear their round or ovoid male catkins at the ends of the slender terminal branchlets; the ovoid cones, either terminal or on short lateral twigs, have thick woody scales dilated at the extremity, with a broad disk depressed in the centre and usually furnished with a short spine; at the base of the scales are from three to seven ovules, which become reversed or partially so by compression, ripening into small angular seed with a narrow wing-like expansion.
Asplanchnaceae, plankton, dwellers in small pools, are, however, ovoid, and Trochosphaera is spherical and must owe its floating powers to the low density of the liquid in its enormously dilated bodycavity.
The bright red ovoid berries are cathartic, the whole plant is acrid and poisonous, and the bark is used medicinally.
The absence of an apical system of plates; the fact that radial symmetry has not affected the generative organs, as it has in all other recent classes; the welldeveloped muscles of the body-wall, supposed to be directly inherited from some worm-like ancestor; the presence on the inner walls of the body in the family Synaptidae of ciliated funnels, which have been rashly compared to the excretory organs (nephridia) of many worms; the outgrowth from the rectum in other genera of caeca (Cuvierian organs and respiratory trees), which recall the anal glands of the Gephyrean worms; the absence of podia (tube-feet) in many genera, and even of the radial water-vessels in Synaptidae; the absence of that peculiar structure known in other echinoderms by the names "axial organ," "ovoid gland," &c; the simpler form of the larva - all these features have, for good reason or bad, been regarded as primitive.
The light proceeds from a pair of conspicuous smooth ovoid spots on the pronotum and from an area beneath the base of the abdomen.