An evergreen, unisexual shrub of sprawling habit 5 or 6 ft high, twice as much in diameter, of a light grey colour; leaves and young branches covered with a fine scurfy down. Leaves alternate, narrowly oblong, 3⁄4 to 2 in. long, 1⁄8 to 1⁄3 in. wide, fleshy, bluntish at the apex, tapered at the base. Flowers yellowish, very small; produced during July in cylindrical, spiked clusters, both terminal and axillary, 1⁄3 to 1 in. long; the whole forming a slender, tapered, leafy panicle 6 to 12 in. long. Fruit bracts 1⁄2 in. long, deeply toothed.
Native of western N. America from British Columbia to Nebraska, and found in dry saline localities. It has long been cultivated at Kew, and is perfectly hardy. In no way showy in flower, it attracts notice and pleases many by its almost white appearance.
A. nuttallii S. Wats., with which the above has been confused in gardens, is quite a different plant. Its leaves are not very dissimilar, being 1⁄2 to 2 in. long, narrowly oblanceolate, often rounded at the apex, and grey; but the plant itself is low, and is shrubby only at the base, sending up erect, more or less annual stems, 1 to 3 ft high. The fruit bracts, too, are less than half as large as those of A. canescens, being 1⁄4 in. or less long. Native of western N. America.