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A deciduous shrub of spreading habit 3 to 4 ft high, and twice or thrice as wide; branches long, slender, whitish, stellately downy. Leaves alternate, grey-white at first, becoming green, lance-shaped, pointed, 3⁄4 to 2 in. long, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. wide, stellately downy especially beneath, and with three longitudinal veins. Flowers produced in July, densely packed in spikes 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. long, and furnished with linear woolly bracts standing out beyond the flower; these spikes are terminal on short side twigs from the uppermost 1 or 2 feet of the year’s shoot, the whole forming a slender panicle of that length. The upper part of each spike is composed of male flowers, grey and very woolly, with the yellow anthers protruding through the wool; below them, and situated in the leaf-axils, are one or two female flowers without sepals or petals, and so small as to be scarcely visible. The seed-vessel becomes covered with silky white hairs, 1⁄4 in. long.
Native of the Caucasus and Asia Minor, eastward to China; introduced in 1780. Over this wide area it shows some variation in shape and size of the leaf, and in the amount of down upon it. In drying for the herbarium the leaves and fruits turn brown. The shrub has considerable botanical interest, but its only garden value is in providing a mass of grey-white foliage in summer. It is perfectly hardy, does not need a rich soil, and is easily increased by cuttings.
E. lanata (Pursh) Moquin Diotis lanata Pursh – A species from western N. America, is also in cultivation. It is a grey-white shrub a yard high, clothed with starry down. Leaves linear, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. long, like those of lavender. Flowers in slender panicles 4 to 9 in. long, 1 to 2 in. wide. It inhabits dry regions, and is known as “white sage”. Not apparently so good for gardens as E. ceratioides, from which it is distinguished by the more recurved margins of the leaves.