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An evergreen shrub to 7 ft high, with erect branches, or a low, spreading bush; bark smooth, dark reddish brown; branchlets white and downy (and also glandular in var. sonomensis). Leaves elliptic, oblong or obovate, 11⁄4 to 2 in. long, short-stalked, covered on both sides with a dense white down, later more or less glabrous. Flowers urn-shaped, white or pinkish, borne in spring in small, dense panicles; stalks and ovaries downy. Fruit globose, flattened at the apex, usually somewhat downy.
Native of California and Oregon; it is found in chaparral, but also grows in forests of Douglas fir and Pinus ponderosa. In the form introduced to Britain, it has proved one of the hardiest and most satisfactory of the taller species, and very decorative in spring when covered with its hoary young growth.