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A shrub up to 5 or 6 ft high of stiff, erect habit, the young shoots covered with a close, white wool. Leaves linear to narrow-oblong, tapered at both ends, 11⁄2 to 41⁄2 in. long, 1⁄8 to 7⁄8 in. wide, upper surface wrinkled, at first white with down which afterwards falls away, leaving it dull green, lower surface permanently covered with a thick tomentum of fine, matted hairs, margins decurved, obscurely toothed or entire; stalk 1⁄8 to 1⁄2 in. long. Stipules small and deciduous, except sometimes on strong shoots. Catkins produced in April as the leaves unfold, cylindric, densely flowered, almost sessile; scales pale brown. Male catkins about 1 in. long; stamens with free, glabrous filaments and purplish red anthers; nectary one. Female catkins 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. long in fruit; ovary downy, conic-ovoid, shortly stalked; style elongate, slender, reddish or purplish.
Native of North America from Labrador to British Columbia, south to Philadelphia, Iowa and Colorado; introduced in 1811. This distinct and hardy species is worth growing for the vivid whiteness of its young leaves.