An evergreen shrub about 2 ft high, of compact habit; the young stems, both surfaces of the leaves, and sepals covered with a soft coating of starry down. Leaves shortly stalked, oval to ovate-oblong, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. long, 1⁄4 to 1 in. wide. Flowers white with a yellow stain at the base of each petal, 11⁄2 to 13⁄4 in. across, often solitary on their stalks. Sepals five, the outer ones heart-shaped, with fine points and 1⁄2 in. long; inner ones smaller, ovate.
Widely spread over S. Europe along all the shores of the Mediterranean and in the foothills of the bordering ranges. It ascends to 4,000 ft in the Alpes Maritimes and is also found around the Italian Lakes. Cultivated since the middle of the sixteenth century, but not very hardy. Moderately severe winters kill or severely injure it. It is allied to hirsutus (q.v.), differing in the stalked leaves, the one- to three-flowered inflorescence and in the dense, starry down on the upper surface of the leaves and calyx. C. salviifolius has none of the large white hairs so conspicuous in hirsutus.
cv. ‘Prostratus’. – Alow, spreading bush, growing to about 1 ft high; leaves smaller than in the type. Said to be hardier.