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An evergreen shrub of sparse habit up to 10 or 12 ft high, with thick, persistent bark; branchlets downy when young, becoming glabrous later. Leaves obovate, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. long, with a wedge-shaped base, and four to six pairs of prominent parallel veins, the apex coarsely toothed, the base entire; upper surface dull and clothed with silky hairs, becoming glabrous later; downy beneath, especially on the midrib and veins. Flowers produced during May, usually singly, Sometimes in twos or threes, on a slender, downy stalk 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 in. long, from buds on the previous year’s wood; each flower is about 1⁄4 in. across, consisting chiefly of a cluster of stamens; calyx grey with down. Fruit 1⁄3 in. long, 1⁄12 in. wide, about the size of an oat grain, surmounted by a slender, twisted tail (the style), 2 to 4 in. long, clothed with fine, white, silky hairs.
Native of western N. America from Oregon to Lower California. This curious shrub has no beauty of flower, but is very remarkable for its long-tailed fruits. In California, where a great crop of them is borne, they give to the branches quite an ostrich feather-like appearance. It is perfectly hardy at Kew, and bears flowers and fruits there.