An evergreen shrub 4 to 6 ft high, of rather loose, straggling habit; twigs and leaves at first downy. Leaves entire, opposite, pinnate-veined, leathery in texture, obovate to elliptical, rounded or indented at the apex, tapered or rounded at the base, 1⁄4 to 1 in. long, dull grey-green, paler beneath. Flowers dull white, or blue-tinted, produced on short axillary twigs, in short, dense, rounded corymbs, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. across.
Spread over the whole length of California in a wild state, this species is, in some parts, little better than a pest. A Californian writer (G. Hansen) observes that ‘it clothes hillsides for miles and miles, and gives them a greyish green tint. Wherever man has done any cultivating, cleared an old wood road, cut a trail, ploughed a furrow in years past, or still keeps cultivating, this ceanothus follows him like a nettle or chickweed.’ For gardens it has little to recommend it, except that it is one of the hardiest species, and flowers freely during May.